'The Killing Field' divides audience

KILLING FIELD: Rebecca Gibney and Peter O’Brien inspect the crime scene at “Mingara”  during Channel Seven tele-movie The Killing Field. The fictional telemovie was filmed at Gulgong.
KILLING FIELD: Rebecca Gibney and Peter O’Brien inspect the crime scene at “Mingara” during Channel Seven tele-movie The Killing Field. The fictional telemovie was filmed at Gulgong.

Gulgong was exposed to 1.85 million people across Australia on Sunday as long awaited tele-movie The Killing Field aired on Channel Seven.

Several Gulgong residents, businesses and landmarks were visible throughout the 90-minute drama co-written by local Michaeley O’Brien and friend Sara Smith.

Named Mingara for the fictional movie, Gulgong became a policing hub as detectives solved several “horrendous acts of brutality” including the disappearance of a local teenage girl.

Starring Rebecca Gibney and Peter O’Brien, The Killing Field polarised its national audience including Mid-Western Region residents who took to social media during and after the premiere.

Despite a fictional storyline and town name change the movie was still a little too close to home for some local viewers casting their minds back to the murder of Michelle Bright in 1999.

Commenting on the Mudgee Guardian’s Facebook page, Jane Ridout said the tele-movie “was pretty good” but being “similar to Michelle” she wondered if producers “thought of the anguish this may give to family and friends.”

Also enjoying the film was Rebecca Murphy who said “the death of the local girl was a little too similar to the loss of Michelle to be a coincidence.”

Almost all feedback on the Mudgee Guardian’s Facebook page stated an appreciation for the movie.

Tracey Spencer said Australia needed more of these good shows on television.

“Especially ones that keep you on your toes. I agree with Jamie Oldfield it would be great as a series every week. I’m sure there would be a few locals ready to volunteer again. Can’t wait for the next one,” she said.

It has been reported Mrs Gibney’s character, Eve Winter, will continue in a new series commissioned by Channel Seven.  

Candace Smith said The Killing Field might “spark one of those investigative shows to come and look into some ‘real life’ cases here.” 

She said it was good television, “the crook was excellent, the scenarios realistic”.

The Killing Field did not receive great reviews from some metropolitan media outlets, picking faults among the crime investigation, and there were local residents who agreed.

Also commenting on Facebook was Sally Callander who said the movie “didn’t do much for small country towns.”

On Twitter the hashtag #thekillingfield again saw a polarised audience.

Several followers criticised the opening Miley Cyrus song, some praised Mrs Gibney’s performance and Australian drama, others were quick to accuse the Mingara High School principal as a serial killer. 

Although no location was given for the fictional town of Mingara, references to Dubbo and Bathurst had local viewers on the lookout for inconsistencies. 

One woman tweeted that her mum scoffed at the idea the Dubbo Show was held in November.

A self-confessed country girl at heart, filming the project in rural New South Wales was a joy for the New Zealand born Gibney. 

“I love the country - the wide open spaces, the silence, the fresh air. I could have stayed there for weeks,” she said.

The Killing Field rated behind The Voice on Sunday night which gathered 2.9 million viewers nationally.