Have you ever watched a movie that had you genuinely feeling hatred for one of its characters? This is often a sign that the actor responsible is very deft at their craft, and Emily Barclay’s portrayal of Suburban Mayhem’s teen tearaway, Katrina Skinner, is sickeningly on-point.
First published in the January 2023 issue of Street Machine
Katrina is a foul-mouthed spoilt brat, bludging off her long-suffering father, John (Robert Morgan), and cheating relentlessly on her baby-daddy boyfriend, Rusty (Michael Dorman). She happily shirks the responsibilities of motherhood in exchange for partying hard and getting her nails done, but her world comes crashing down after her brother Danny (Laurence Breuls) gets life in the slammer for decapitating a mouthy console operator (Steven Peacocke) during a botched robbery.
Katrina is beside herself over Danny’s incarceration and makes quite a spectacle during the court trial, subsequently becoming high on the instant fame she garners. She concludes that the only logical option to help free Danny is to have her father killed so she can inherit his house and use the funds to mount a new legal appeal – seems legit. The only drawback is finding someone to do the deed.
She resorts to the best bait known to man – tits and arse – in an attempt to persuade Rusty to do her dirty work. However, Rusty still has some sense of morality rattling around upstairs and hastily declines, prompting Katrina to steal his VJ Charger and go off on yet another bender in search of a willing sucker to knock off her dad. Enter Danny’s best friend, mentally challenged local Kenny (Anthony Hayes), who has long had the hots for Katrina and will do anything to sample her forbidden fruit.
The plan is all set, but Katrina’s bad manners and questionable behaviour has come at a price, drawing plenty of attention from Child Services and the cops, particularly local detective Robert Andretti (Steve Bastoni). The deadly wheels have been set in motion, but amid all this extra scrutiny, does Katrina really have the smarts to get away with murder?
Shot partly in a ‘mockumentary’ style, Suburban Mayhem is a pretty solid Aussie attempt at an unhappy social drama, using a strong soundtrack and flashbacks to create an edginess and style common to many flicks of the early-to-mid 2000s. I reckon we’ve all grown up knowing a girl or three like Katrina, and Emily Barclay nails the role, giving her character a huge dose of both bitchiness and sass.
The highlight for me though was the nostalgia of watching a VL Commodore regularly smoking a tyre in its natural daily-driver habitat of nearly 20 years ago. One word of warning: the film’s R-rating is definitely appropriate, so best view it once you’ve popped the kids to bed.
- 1974 VJ Valiant Charger
- 1987 VL Holden Commodore
- 1983 Ford Fairmont ESP
- 2002 Holden VY Commodore
- 1997 Ford Fairlane hearse
- 1990 Holden Rodeo
- 1986 Honda Integra
- 2000 Yamaha WR450F motorcycle
- Emily Barclay
- Robert Morgan
- Michael Dorman
- Steve Bastoni
- Anthony Hayes
- Laurence Breuls
- Genevieve Lemon
- Mia Wasikowska
- Steven Peacocke
A nostalgic collection of pro-peg burnouts, doughnuts and traffic light drags befit the film’s youthful exuberance
A bratty and uncontrollable teen mum plots to have her father killed to fund her incarcerated brother’s court appeal
Blu-ray, DVD, streaming
Cool flick fact:
Suburban Mayhem’s screenwriter Alice Bell drew on real-life Australian trials and court transcripts as inspiration for Katrina (above) and other characters.