Review by: Dave Wain
Stars: John Jarratt, Craig McLachlan, Chris Haywood, Sacha Horler
Written by: John Jarratt, Cody Jarrett
UK Certification: 18
UK RRP: £9.99
UK DVD Region: 2
Runtime: 82 minutes
Directed by: Kevin James Dobson
UK Release Date: 24th February 2014
I’ve always had a soft spot for Aussie genre movies – or Ozploitation as they may be referred as. Next of Kin (1982) is often regarded as one of the best, certainly Tarantino backs that assertion in the superb documentary Not Quite Hollywood (2008), and here we have the star of that movie and general Aussie cult film icon – John Jarratt, who both writes (with wife Cody) and stars in this picture alongside Craig McLachlan (Neighbours). Remember Craig McLachlan? Remember his music career? I actually bought his hit 7” single ‘Hey Mona’ because I was 12 and knew no better. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever confessed to that… catharsis.
Anyway, on with the film and the setting is the Wonga Road Warehouse which is about to become a meeting place for a collection of characters. We have Damien (Charlie Jarratt) and Sue (Angela Punch McGregor), a mother and son who are currently fleeing from Phil (John Jarratt) their father and husband respectively who has a dangerous reputation. Also present are friends Shae (Sacha Horler) and Mickey (Rebecca Smart), bar owners Mory (McLachlan) and Kate (Jessica Napier), and a cop (Chris Haywood).
The reason they’re holed up in this outback hostelry is due to the extreme weather conditions going on outside. It’s the storm of the century, with flash flooding rampant, roads impassable and a general air of danger. All that they can do is assemble in the pub and wait it out until conditions get a little safer outside. Soon enough the patrons are dubiously welcome the arrival of Phil, although we’re left in the dark as to a) where he’s been, and b) why his wife and son are so eager to get away from him. All we know is that they seem terrified of him, whilst Phil comes across as a bullish, arrogant man with a propensity for violence. It’s not long before the rest of the people holed up here get the gist that something is wrong between the family. However, with the severity of the storm meaning no-one in, no-one out, it is about to become a long tense night where everything is not always as straight forward as it seems.
Released no doubt to coincide with Jarratt reprising his role in the second Wolf Creek film, this small time Aussie feature filmed back in 2009 is actually a tense little horror-thriller. Undoubtedly shot on a small budget, and with Jarratt taking the role of writer, producer and star, it was presumably a labour of love. Thankfully with it being almost a one location picture, it takes heed from that often ignored piece of advice of ‘keep it simple’, while having the pleasure of seeing Jarratt work his magic as a loose cannon for 80 minutes was satisfying indeed.
Some of the supporting cast for me were a little one dimensional, but irrespective of that they all gave solid performances in particular McLachlan as the ballsy landlord. One of the most impressive aspects of the film was the recreation of the storm which was done brilliantly and manages to authentically convey the ferocity of it onscreen. Despite not having mass appeal, Savages Crossing does come recommended. If you have the patience for a slow moving potboiler of a thriller, it’s definitely worth more than a brass razoo.
6 out of 10