Out of the Blue (2006 film)

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Out of the Blue
New Zealand theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Sarkies
Produced bySteven O'Meagher
Tim White
Timothy White
Written byGraeme Tetley
Robert Sarkies
Bill O'Brien
Based onThe Aramoana massacre
StarringKarl Urban
Matthew Sunderland
Lois Lawn
Simon Ferry
Tandi Wright
Paul Glover
William Kircher
Georgia Fabish
Fayth Rasmussen
Music byVictoria Kelly
CinematographyGreig Fraser
Edited byAnnie Collins
Condor Films
Dendy Films
Desert Road Films
New Zealand Film Commission
New Zealand On Air
Southern Light Films
Distributed byDendy Films
The Weinstein Company (DVD)
Release date
  • 11 September 2006 (2006-09-11) (Toronto)
  • 12 October 2006 (2006-10-12) (New Zealand)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryNew Zealand
BudgetNZ$6 million
Box officeUS$728 (USA) NZ$1,135,700 (NZ)[1]

Out of the Blue is a 2006 New Zealand crime drama film directed by Robert Sarkies and starring Karl Urban. The film premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival in Canada and was released in New Zealand on 12 October 2006 to minor controversy. The film has since grossed well over $1 million at the New Zealand box-office taking it into the top ten highest grossing local films.[2]

The film is based on the Aramoana massacre that occurred over a period of two days in mid November 1990 in a small seaside settlement in the Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand. The small coastal community of Aramoana (Māori for "pathway to the sea") lies on the edge of the Pacific Ocean at the base of a narrow sandy spit which juts into the mouth of Otago Harbour, 27 kilometres northeast of the city of Dunedin. The settlement is normally a peaceful, idyllic locale, but in 1990 the community was turned upside down as a result of the country's second worst massacre after Christchurch mosque shootings. Resident David Gray, an unemployed gun enthusiast, went on a shooting spree, killing 13 people before being killed by police.


Aramoana, Tuesday 13 November 1990. David Gray, an unemployed man in his 30s who lives in his parent's small holiday home, cycles into town where he has an argument with staff at a bank over a minor issue. Unstable & angry, he returns home where he has a cache of fire-arms, including a semi-automatic rifle. Late in the afternoon, he notices children from a neighbouring house have wandered onto his yard and he angrily abuses them, sparking a heated verbal exchange with their father, Garry Holden. Gray goes inside his house and then quickly re-emerges armed with the rifle, shooting Holden dead. Holden's two young daughters, Chiquita and Jasmine, and his girlfriend Julie-Anne's adopted daughter Rewa, witness the murder and flee inside Holden's house, attempting to hide. Gray enters and soon locates them.

Chiquita is then seen fleeing, having been wounded, trying to get help for Jasmine and Rewa (whose deaths occur off-screen). She reaches Julie-Anne and they both get into her van and drive towards the scene, trying to rescue the other girls, only to find Holden's house has been set on fire. Julie-Anne is then forced to drive to safety as Gray fires at her vehicle.

Nearby residents hear the shooting and see the smoke, not yet comprehending what is happening. Gray enters a nearby house and shoots dead both elderly male occupants (their deaths occur off-screen).

Elderly widow Eva Dickson, who recently has had hip surgery, ventures out with her walking frame to see what is happening and she is joined by a neighbour Chris Cole. Earlier, Dickson's middle-aged son James had left the house, looking for his dog. An unseen Gray opens fire, hitting Cole and narrowly missing Dickson. Having collapsed and unable to stand up again, Dickson crawls inside her house to ring the police and then goes back to Cole, lying badly wounded but still conscious, to tell him that help is coming (Cole later succumbs to his injuries).

A utility with six people on board, including three children, drives up from the nearby beach, stopping near the burning house. Gray emerges and opens fire. The subsequent shootings are not shown, only the noise and the look of horror on the face of a nearby witness.

It is now getting dark and the Holden house is engulfed in flames. The first police to arrive are Sgt Stewart Guthrie, Constable Nick Harvey and Detective Paul Knox. They arrive at Gray's and Holden's houses, seeing bodies in and around the utility, including a woman on the ground who is badly wounded and calling for help. The police attempt to surround Gray's house but the gunman surprises Guthrie from behind, shooting him dead. Harvey, armed with a rifle, briefly has Gray in his sights but hesitates, missing his chance. Knox reaches the utility, discovering the woman is now dead but one of the vehicle's other occupants still alive- 3-year-old Stacey Percy, who has been wounded in the abdomen but is still conscious. Knox and Harvey enter Gray's house but find it empty. They get into a car, Harvey nursing Stacey, trying to keep her conscious and Knox holding the bodies of the other two children from the utility, and drive to where a police cordon is being established, handing Stacey over to paramedics. Harvey is physically ill as he reacts to the fear and trauma.

Eva Dickson stays in her kitchen, keeping in touch with police by phone. Her dog comes back, stained with the blood of her son James (whose death has occurred off-screen). The police seal off the town, residents spending a fearful night in their homes with the gunman still at large. Gray enters a crib and, finding it deserted, spends the night there.

The next day, police have arrived en masse and are combing the town, searching for Gray. Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) officers locate the crib and surround the small house. After a brief exchange of gunfire, the officers throw tear-gas canisters into the house. Gray abruptly emerges, screaming obscenities and firing wildly from the hip. The waiting officers open fire and hit Gray several times, the gunman collapsing. With difficulty, the AOS men restrain him and then wait nearby as Gray dies of his wounds.

A postscript follows, consisting of a montage of scenes, including the full squad of AOS officers escorting Eva Dickson from her home as a mark of respect for her bravery, Chiquita Holden and Stacey Percy in hospital, both recovering from their wounds, the deliberate torching of Gray's house that occurred several days after the massacre and a list of names of the 13 people who died on 13 November.



The film has received positive reviews but had a controversy during production. It faced a lot of opposition from the town, and as a result no filming was done in Aramoana. Some members of the community were against the movie being filmed, but they would get to see the movie first before it was released to the public, and it would not be called 'Aramoana.' Most of the filming was shot in Long Beach, a settlement six kilometres from Aramoana.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification has classified the film Out of the Blue as R15[3] (restricted to viewers under 15 years of age) with the descriptive note "violence and content that may disturb". The film was restricted because the murders it depicts are likely to cause younger viewers distress and threaten their sense of personal safety. "Out of the Blue deals with recent events involving real people. For that reason we consulted with the families of victims and the Aramoana community. We were impressed by the articulate and heartfelt comments they made at our meetings" said Chief Censor Bill Hastings.[3]

The film deals with violence in a realistic but restrained way. The effect the film has on its audience is likely to depend on the circumstances of the viewer. Mr Hastings said "for some of those closely involved in the events it portrays the film may be upsetting and traumatic. Other people may view it as a sensitive portrayal of the responses of ordinary people to horrific events."[3]

One of the AOS officers who located and shot Gray, Mike Kyne, took exception to the way they were portrayed in the film as standing to one side and casually smoking cigarettes whilst a hand-cuffed Gray lay on the ground, dying of his injuries. Kyne said, 'That's bullshit. Poetic licence.' In reality, none of the AOS officers had smoked at the scene and after restraining Gray, they had called an ambulance. (Unlike the scene in the film, Gray did not die outside the crib but later in the ambulance en route to hospital.) Also, in the exchange of gunfire prior to Gray's capture, one of the AOS members was shot in the ankle, which is not seen in the film.[4]


  1. ^ "Box office/business for Out of the Blue". IMDb. 21 October 2007. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  2. ^ "Aramoana film cracks $1 million". NZ Herald. APN Holdings. 14 December 2006. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  3. ^ a b c "Out of the Blue Classified R15". Office of Film and Literature Classification News Archive. New Zealand Classification Office. 3 October 2006. Archived from the original on 4 June 2010. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  4. ^ "Guilt and loathing in a small town - National - NZ Herald News". The New Zealand Herald. 7 November 2010.

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