By Kate Smith
17th June 2014

I know nothing about skateboarding, but that didn’t matter at all when viewing ‘All This Mayhem’, an engrossing account of the rise and fall of the Pappas brothers.

Tas and Ben Pappas are from Victoria, and broke into the skateboarding scene internationally in the early 1990s. The film follows them from their roots in a rough part of Melbourne, to the very top of their game, and then traces the tragedy that followed.

You don’t think of pro skateboarders as being like rock stars, but these kids were. And they were kids - only 16 years old when they started making it big. Their fall seems almost inevitable, considering the intensity with which they embraced the celebrity lifestyle.


‘All this Mayhem’ intersperses archive footage (mostly filmed by the skaters themselves; kids back then were just as obsessed with videos of themselves as they are now – the cameras were just a lot bigger) with current interviews from the major players. The voiceovers are well-placed over the footage, and the honesty is refreshing. There’s no sugar-coating, and if foul language offends you, be warned. These boys didn’t pull their punches, and neither does the documentary - misogyny, a bit of animal abuse, and serious drug use all feature.

The editing is good, with no overly choppy or dragging moments, but the music is hit and miss; at times, it sounds just like a Disney movie. There’s a very effective build of tension throughout the film as we realise that one player is conspicuously absent from the current interviews. The interviews themselves are candid, well shot, and at times, hilarious.

You don’t think of pro skateboarders as being like rock stars, but these kids were.

Throughout the film I felt like I was right there with these boys, and then when the inevitable is revealed, things suddenly feel very real. Director Eddie Martin pulls out all the stops in a moment that lingers with a palpable sadness, changing the tone abruptly. The whole documentary becomes a telling warning on the dangers of drug use.

‘All This Mayhem’ is an honest and telling story about the bond between brothers set against the slightly filthy world of professional extreme sports. Despite the tragedy of the subject, the film ends with hope. I enjoyed it, and even though I still have no interest in skateboarding, I know a lot more about it and am glad I saw ‘All This Mayhem'.

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