In a quiet Australian suburb, an introverted teen lives with his policeman father and his father's girlfriend. To the boy, the adult world is unfathomable and full of secrets. His mother died when he was a baby, but his taciturn father won't speak of her. Down the street, a neighbor furtively peers out of her living room window all day, seemingly afraid of something; no one has ever seen her outside. In recent years, there have been stories about local girls who have been abducted, never to be seen alive again. And the beautiful, oversexed, girl next door believes the two of them can figure out what is going on in their neighborhood, for fun.
This movie has several things going for it as a thriller: the dialog and *everyone's* acting are terrific; the plot sets you up for some interesting and unexpected developments; the story is seen from the vantage point of several of the characters, lending it a sort of "Rashomon" feel; and the movie begins at a meandering pace but imperceptibly gains momentum, like a river flowing fatefully to the falls. It builds to a deafening crescendo that ends with a climax as sudden, intense, and haunting as Taxi Driver's.
The movie also has several weaknesses that prevent it from being a great thriller: it borrows atmosphere and imagery from the David Lynch movie "Blue Velvet"; the tone of the movie alternates between sinister and banal in such a way that it obscures its psychologically unsettling and unique observation; and a central character behaves incomprehensibly at the end so the plot can be tied up, but somewhat unsatisfactorily.
The world of adults is full of secrets and misinformation, because people don't talk to each other. And a lonely adolescent is like a loaded gun.