A trio of tweenagers hitch a lift with one of the brothers. They discover what he is up to, and things spiral out of control. There is no whodunnit element, and no hockey-mask to cover the killers' faces. Instead there is more of a torture-porn element as the victims are tied up and try to escape before they get mulched.
Australia's home-grown film industry seems trapped in the 1970s. Ironic, since that was the decade that it was kick-started by Picnic at Hanging Rock . These days their main product is the crime thriller, while supernatural horror is extremely rare. This movie adds an element of very dark humour to the mix. For example, the police sergeant who pops up is played by John Jarratt, best known for playing a more serious serial killer in Wolf Creek .
This might be called a more grown-up version of Home Alone . However, the leader of the villains is a criminal mastermind who deserves a place in the pantheon of horror movie villains. He is far scarier than the generic Freddy and Jason clones who proliferate the genre.
It is a relief to see something that is not about the usual five archetypal teenagers. The dynamic is a lot different from what we are used to. Each character has their own ideas on how to proceed, but they need to convince the others on the merits of their plan.
The crocodile has an unusual feeding pattern, and chooses to menace the humans rather than just feed or move on. All standard stuff in a suspense film like this, where jeopardy must be ever-present.
As slasher films go, this is typically Australian. It lacks the Hollywood trappings (hockey mask, chainsaw) and instead is more like an amped-up crime thriller.
Tilly moves in with her mother, Molly ( Judy Davis ), a bitter and possibly senile old woman. Luckily Tilly has a friend in the shape of the the local policeman, Sergeant Farrat (Hugo Weaving - Lord Of The Rings ). He is a fan of French fashions, and Tilly has become an expert dressmaker, so this is more like Weaving's role in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert than his one in The Matrix .
Tilly's other ally is Teddy McSwiney (Liam Hemsworth - Thor ), her potential love interest. He plays an important part in the Second Act.
Unfortunately this movie has a Third Act tagged on. Although the film is based on a novel, it seems that the genre shifts at the end of the Second Act.
Twelve years later, the Aborigines are on the warpath for revenge. They do not care that one of their own started it, nor that the most trigger-happy white men died in the battle. The white cops are shown as being even more villainous, covering up for the alleged misdeeds of their own men. They seem intent on killing any witnesses, although the missionary preacher saw everything and is never killed or even questioned.
Travis is sent into the bush to catch the leader of the Aborigine war party. The Aboriginal boy, now a young man, is sent along as a guide. The cop something of a White Saviour, like the title character of Quigley Down Under . After all, they are both snipers who use their sharp-shooter skills to protect Aborigines. The difference is that Travis teaches his aboriginal sidekick, which empowers the younger man to follow his own path.
This is a drama rather than a thriller, so there is no clear-cut villain. That said, it is quite predictable and the ending is unsurprising.
For the sake of moral ambiguity, in the third act of the film he runs into some real bad guys. Yes, it was not porn or sex that killed her, it was the drugs. So the real villain is a drug-dealer, with a gang of thugs and a penchant for making snuff movies.
Six months later, the witnesses who testified against him are abducted and forced to live out office-themed Torture porn. The man wants them to prove his innocence. For every minor indiscretion, he cuts a scar into their forehead with his hook-hand. On the fifth strike, he cuts it across their throat!
As the couple's investigations proceed, their story is intercut with that of the family which pitched the tent at the camping spot a couple of days earlier. Eventually we discover that the local thugs had something to do with the disappearances. Well, modern Australian horror movies are basically crime thrillers instead of traditional supernatural suspense films. Anyway, it looks like the tweenagers will solve the mystery the hard way.
Unlike Wolf Creek there is no serial killer to blame for everything. Without external conflict, there is merely the drama generated from internal conflict. In this case the source of the drama is easy to locate. The man is the one who makes all the bad decisions, dragging his helpless girlfriend along with him as he transgresses against the laws of common sense.
The Final Girl goes on a road trip with her sister's BF and the police officer assigned to the case, who has taken time off from his day job in order to help. They follow the trail to a caravan park, where the inhabitants are so creepy they would be expelled from Twin Peaks .
Things get creepier still, when the action shifts to a clinic straight out of A Cure For Wellness .
The plot seems identical to a George Kennedy film set aboard a mysterious ship. The only updates are that it is set on dry land (for a much lower budget) and the cast are all Tweenagers (to make it a cliched mainstream horror flick). Also, like most Australian efforts the supernatural aspect is played down. Their home market prefers crime stories, and thus their horror efforts like the supernatural underpinning.
The passengers include John Jarrett ( Wolf Creek ) and Mia Wasikowska . The guide's boyfriend (Sam Worthington - Clash of the Titans (2010) ) also drops by in his own boat. Yes, there are even more Aussie stars-to-be in this film than in the average episode of Neighbours.
The early kill scenes are very lacklustre, with nothing much shown on-screen. This is quite disappointing, even if it means the dodgy CGI is kept to a minimum. However, the director was just saving the good stuff for the second half.
The crippled cop ends up as a prison warder in a teenage detention centre. He is put in charge of a work detail consisting of a photogenic group of teenage delinquents who appear to have been selected to be equally representative of race and gender.
The work detail are sent to clean up an old hotel. Unfortunately, and predictably, the monsterous killer starts to bump them off one at a time.
The most interesting thing about this film is that it was filmed in Queensland, Australia. This is apparently so successful that there is a sequel, directed by up-and-comers the Soska Sisters .
After the events of the first film, the body of the serial killer is taken to the morgue. The place is meant to be closed down for the night, but Final Girl Amy Danielle Harris decides to stay and help out rather than go celebrate her birthday. Instead her BFF Tamara ( Katharine Isabelle ) holds the party in the morgue with all their tweenage friends.
The slasher character archetypes from Cabin In The Woods are all represented, with a slight twist. The Scholar (Michael Eklund - Wynonna Earp ) is in a wheelchair, the Athlete (Greyston Holt - Bitten ) is the heroine's pushy brother, and there is even a spare slut ( Chelan Simmons ). What really makes the movie unique is that we actually start to care about some of the characters. They are almost likeable, as opposed to the usual expendable fodder in slasher movies. The kill scenes are also impressive, a more realistic portrayal of violence than in a by-the-books effort.
Tamara decides to have sex in the morgue room, where the killer's body is stored. Unfortunately her performance is loud enough to wake the dead. The others later upbraid her, in what would get a male director accused of slut-shaming. However, the killer is the real slut-shamer, since his mother was an abusive puritan who makes Mama in Carrie look like parent-of-the-year. This plays into the trope of the medieval morality play, where the tweenagers are punished for having pre-marital sex. However, the killer turns out to be equal-opportunities and will kill just about anyone if he gets the chance.
In August 1945, the hero (a RAAF Flight Lieutenant, their best pilot) takes a secret cargo to Bora Bora.
Because of their Villainous boss, the hero and a babe go on a quest. They must retrieve a Mystical Artefact (like Indiana Jones).
A Maori man (Temuera Morrison - Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones ) is accused of murder, so the Empire sends a posse after him. A Boer (Ray Winstone - Robin of Sherwood ), an expert tracker now reduced to being a manhunter, reluctantly takes the case. Yes, Boba Fett is on the wrong end of a Bounty Hunter case!