Screenplay by Robert Humphrey Gyde based on the novel by Maurice Gee

Loomis: a bush logging town in Depression era New Zealand – no jobs since the mill closed and no booze to drown your sorrows since the town went dry.

A mysterious FAT MAN erupts out of a pool deep in the bush. He catches a boy stealing candy from his rucksack, forces the kid to help him rob a decaying mansion before melting away into the trees.

The boy is COLIN POTTER, son of fading boxing champ LAURIE and mixed race beauty MAISIE. He idolizes his parents but poverty and disappointed hopes are driving their marriage onto the rocks. Into town swaggers the Fat Man – now revealed as HERBERT MUSKIE, prodigal son of the local saw mill dynasty.

Muskie electrifies Loomis with his American showgirl wife, BETTE, and dark tales of his mobster past in Detroit. He makes Colin his unwilling partner in crime as he reopens the mill to front for his bootlegging business and floods the nearby Maori community with cheap rum.

The Fat Man’s charismatic mix of cunning, humor and menace soon has the locals eating out of his hand. He gets his old schoolmate Laurie under his thumb working on the Muskie mansion while he sets about seducing his childhood obsession Maisie.

Only Colin and Muskie’s tough minded stepdaughter, VERNA, can see the Fat Man’s true colors. They discover that, when Muskie was a boy, Laurie and his school pals nearly drowned him at the swimming hole for peeping on Maisie. The Fat Man may brush this off as kids’ stuff, but the past is an open wound and he’s out for blood – and love.

Colin can only watch helplessly as Muskie humiliates Laurie in front of his pals and relives the peeping tom incident in a sweaty nocturnal encounter with Maisie at creek. The Fat Man is coming unglued. He spirals into a booze fueled spree of murder and mayhem that he plans to cap by slitting Laurie’s throat at the mill. Only Colin can stop him. But Laurie and Loomis made the Fat Man into the monster he is – are they really worth saving?

With his plans thwarted and an ugly lynch mob baying for his blood, Muskie grabs Colin and Verna as hostages. They flee into the bush. But the mob – led by Laurie – is closing in fast. Exhausted and backed into a corner, the Fat Man’s gangster swagger reverts to the snivel of a fat boy surrounded by bullies in the schoolyard. He pleads for Colin’s help and the kid makes an astonishing choice. He helps the Fat Man run…