Revenge, retribution, catharsis, carnage, karma, justice, a life for a life. Thorny topics for civilised humans when the uncivil visits.

What could have been a singularly sordid revenge story, THE COST emerges as a philosophical contemplation of moral imperatives and basic instincts.

Set over a gripping 48 hours, THE COST tells the story of two ordinary blokes David (Jordan Fraser-Trumble) and Aaron (Damon Hunter) who abduct a newly released felon Troy (Kevin Dee).

Troy has been paroled after serving time for the abduction, rape and murder of David’s wife, Stephanie, Aaron’s sister.

Believing that the legal system has failed them and intent on delivering their own brutal form of justice, the brothers in law are willing to step outside the law and follow the beacon of payback that beckons them. No need for a moral compass when the beam of retribution burns so brightly. Beckoning to a destination of just desserts.

But what of the reefs of doubt, the rocks of reason, the cliffs of conscience? The success of their violent quest for justice depends on solidarity, any schism a catastrophic crack in their joint venture.

Directed by Matthew Holmes, and written by Holmes and Gregory Moss, THE COST explores the human instinct-and in particular the male instinct-to repay violence with more violence, in this instance a response to the unforgivable violence toward women. It examines the true cost of vengeance, and discovers there is no discount on the price of reprisal. Sometimes you have to choose between loyalty and justice.

Meditative, rich, and ready to send your moral compass into gyrations.

Is the quality of mercy quantifiable? Do some vile acts extinguish the commission of clemency? Does uncivil blood make civil hands unclean?

THE COST asks the age-old question, what is real justice? Is vigilantism ever justified? Where is the moral line, and what happens to someone when they cross that line? It’s a film that explores the emotional and mental consequences of avenging justice and vengeance, challenging audiences about their own stance on the morality of this issue.

The performances of the three leads are exemplary. As is that of Clayton Watson as Brian who inadvertently blunders onto the trio. Comic relief builds steadily into critical suspense.

Conflict and confusion, suspense and tension, with a conclusion and resolution unsullied by predictability, THE COST is not only one of the best Australian films of the year, but one of the finest of the genre from anywhere.

Share THE COST on the big screen for the criminally limited sessions

Tuesday Oct 17 – Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, Cremorne NSW (7:00pm)

Wednesday Oct 18 – Ritz Cinema, Randwick NSW (6:30pm)

THE COST will also be available from October 18 to purchase on DVD or Blu-ray or rent from:

iTunes / Amazon / Google / YouTube / Vimeo / Xbox / Shift72.