Out of the Blue - DVD Review

Funded by the New Zealand national film council, Out of the Blue tells the story of the true life tragic events in Aramoana where 13 people died at the hands of David Gray, a local un-employed man who went on the rampage over two days in 1990. Following, Gray (Matthew Sunderland), a police force (including an impressive Karl Urban) struggling to cope with events it is ill-equipped to handle and the small town’s local residents trapped in the middle the film pitches itself at ground-level, telling the story with a vicious honesty.

Director Robert Sarkies creates an impressive array of contrasts within Out of the Blue, highlighting how Aramoana really is the last place on earth anyone would expect this to happen. Opening shots of beautiful beach and countryside scenes are all the more poignant when we know what inevitably will follow. In fact the entire opening 20 minutes or so are amongst some of the tensest in modern cinema as characters are built whom we are only too aware, existed in reality but are not there any longer.

Gray is introduced early on and Sarkies doesn’t shy away from presenting him as seriously mentally unstable. Early scenes see him exploding at a teller in a bank while at other times he clearly imagines false pressures pushing in on him. While answers aren’t exactly forthcoming about Gray both throughout the film and by the time the inevitable conclusion hits, Sarkies does try his best to craft a character out of the little which is obviously known.

During a horrific night-time siege of the town (which is little more than an organised hamlet on the shore) by Gray, the director narrows the focus down to key members of the community and the police force who struggle to adapt and help than make it through the night. Decent turns by both Karl Urban and William Kircher as the two lead police officers help anchor what happens in a stark urban reality, maintained to a high level by Sarkies.

At times Out of the Blue is extremely hard to watch, all the more difficult for the fact that we know we are witnessing events in almost a slightly-delayed real-time. Gray’s victims included the weak and the vulnerable and while at times Sarkies can be accused of watering down particularly horrific deaths, rarely is the film anything but brutally, and disturbingly, honest. While not shying away from presenting us with the victims and their stories Starkies does not negate the fact that there are heroes here too, and plenty of them.


  1. I remember the events of Aramoana very well. We don't get alot of gun crime in New Zealand so this was really shocking stuff. Unfortunately this sort of thing is on the rise in our country.
    Gray's rampage is still the worse in terms of numbers though. Nice to see someone from out in the big wide world taking notice of a small NZ film and giving it a good rating. It is a well made film and done well at the NZ box office. It is still a vivid memory to all of us who lived through the events even though they were over twenty years ago.
    It treats the subject matter well without blame or judgement. I recall the theatre I was in being completely quiet throughout the film. i even know some Kiwis who won't see it because they would find it too distressing. Small country our NZ andtwo degrees of seperation is avery real thing here.

  2. Brent, I can completely understand and I imagine the shock must still reverberate - I'm sure that like Dunblaine here, the name Aramoana will forever be tinged with associations to the events of that day. More than happy to take note and continue to encourage others to take note of the film. I still think its a wonderful piece and Karl Urban's work in particular is outstanding. I can well imagine the atmosphere in theatres there when it was screened; it encourages quiet reverence, shock, horror and hope and its all the better for it.

  3. Silly me..I had completely forgotten about Dunblaine. Problem with gun violence is we assume it happens in the good ole US of A and no where else.
    Am really plesed that it got screened elsewhere in the world because in itself it isn't a bad film.