Thomas Tancreed, Duplass Brothers Productions, and HBO’s Last Stop Larrimah documentary investigates a strange missing persons case from deep in the Australian outback. Still to this day, no one really knows what happened to 70-year-old Paddy Moriarty.
The story begins on Dec. 16, 2017, when the small town of Larrimah, Australia went from a population of just 11 year-round residents to only 10 after Moriarty and his dog, Kellie, turned up mysteriously missing.
Immediately, Larrimah’s remaining residents began pointing fingers at each other.
There’s Barry Sharpe, the owner of the Larrimah Hotel & Pub and a beefy pet crocodile; Fran Hodgetts, a quirky outcast and shop owner specializing in exotic meat pies; Karl and Bobbie Roth, a husband and wife who ran the local fire and rescue team and bitter rivals of Barry; Billy Hodgetts, Fran’s ex-husband, all skin, bones, and tattoos with stories to tell; Cookie Burke, a mellow old fellow who loves juicy gossip; Karen and Mark Rayner, the two newest and youngest residents of Larrimah; Richard Simpson, the bartender who works for Barry; and Lenny Hodson, Larrimah’s oldest resident at 81-years-old.
Watching Last Stop Larrimah, you’ll find that the more you get to know the residents of Larrimah, the more confusing it is to find the truth. Six years later, the definitive answer as to what happened to Paddy Moriarty and his dog Kellie is still unclear.
We asked director Thomas Tancred, who made the documentary with the help of Mark and Jay Duplass’ Duplass Brothers Productrions, to address all of our unanswered questions in the below Q&A.
Thomas Tancred Answers All Our Burning Questions About What Happened to Paddy Moriarty
MovieMaker: Did Fran and Paddy immediately start hating each other as soon as they became neighbors?
Thomas Tancred: When he first moved in there, Fran did try to be the kind neighbor. She made him a meal and stuff like that. But I do think it’s part of the town and what was going on there — it’s kind of like high school, right? You’re friends with this group, or you’re friends with this group. And if you cross this group, then this group is going to be mad at you. So Paddy knew that the whole town didn’t like Fran, so he’s almost like being a dick to her just to to get approval from other people. So that was interesting about it, too — it didn’t have to be this way. They didn’t all have to be at each other’s throats, but it just kind of ended up that way.
MM: Where did the animosity between those two groups in Larrimah begin?
TT: I think a lot of it has to do with the pub. The pub is the heart of the town, and when you have ownership of the pub, you kind of run the town. So I think a lot of it has to do with that. And a lot of it is just small town bullshit. They get upset over little things, and that little thing reminds you of the thing that person said to you five years ago, and it makes you angrier. But I think it all [about controlling] the pub. Carl and Bobby’s daughter owned the pub and Barry took it over, so then they were fighting with him, and Paddy’s a soldier for Barry. Then they’re selling meat pies, and Fran says, ‘You can’t sell meat pies. That’s my thing in the town.’ So, you know, perfect mixture.
MM: How did you navigate these serious murder accusations that different townspeople are lobbing against each other?
TT: My dad is no longer with us, but my dad was an old Australian guy who didn’t talk and didn’t open up, and I almost don’t know a lot about his life, because that’s just the way old Australian dudes are. So, going into this, I was like, Oh, these people aren’t going to open up to me that much. And then all of a sudden, they did. I don’t know why they did, but they did. And they’re saying terrible things about each other. But I think the way I approached it, not that I’m a journalist, but in that sense, if you say something about [one person], I’m gonna let them say their side, too… and to me, honestly, my favorite types of films are the ones where I’m kind of fighting myself in my head, going, ‘Who do I trust here?’ That’s how it was the whole time there. I didn’t really know who to trust.
MM: As I was watching it, I knew that they couldn’t all be telling the truth, but they just seemed so believable.
TT: That’s what’s so hard about it, too. Because it’s like, I feel like I trust them all. But obviously, a lot of them are lying to me.
MM: The documentary ends with a possible theory as to what happened to Paddy, but without any actual evidence or a confession, the police haven’t been able to make any arrests. How do you feel about where the case is now?
TT: It’s tricky. I don’t want to say, ‘Boom, I believe exactly this.’ But the film is my thoughts, and we do lay out kind of where we’re going with that. The biggest thing with this, too — we didn’t have time for it in the film, but Paddy goes missing, and then there’s this giant monsoon that hit. The police don’t get there until after that. So the timeline is just really kind of funny. The thing I always think of is what would have happened if they called the police instantly the next morning when Paddy didn’t show up? I wonder if we’d be living in a completely different world of what happened there. I do think it’s just all these strange circumstances. I always think about, why did Paddy moved to this town? Why that night? Why is Owen out at the phone that night? It’s like all these like, perfect — I don’t even know what to call it. Just this perfect explosion of things that sadly took Paddy away.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
You can stream Last Stop Larrimah on Max.