Director: Cameron Cairnes and Colin Cairnes
Stars: Anna McGahan, Oliver Ackland, Jamie Kristian, Damon Herriman, Angus Sampson, Chrissie Page, John Jarratt
Released on 13th July 2015 by The Works Film Group
The Morgan Brothers, mild-mannered Reg (Damon Herriman) and the older, aggressive Lindsay (Angus Sampson), use a secret ingredient in their Blood and Bone fertilizer — the bodies they find at the sites of car accidents on the dusty Outback highways. However, it’s been all too long since their last find and a serious backlog is affecting the family business. Slowly Reg realises that desperate measures are called for if the company is to survive.
Meanwhile, fun-loving Sophie (Anna McGahan), her boyfriend Jamie (Oliver Ackland) and irresponsible British backpacker Wes (Jamie Kristian) are heading to a music festival when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Their misery turns to joy when Reg drives by and offers to take them to their destination.
With a quote on the DVD case calling this: ‘The best horror comedy since Shaun of the Dead’, perhaps the best description of 100 Bloody Acres would be ‘Wolf Creek played for laughs’. The film even features a cameo from Wolf Creek’s murderous Mick Taylor, John Jarratt, as a no-nonsense local lawman that ends up embroiled in the Morgan Brothers’ sick scheme.
Of course, the film stands up in its own right, an assured and fun effort from first time directors (and co-writers) Cameron and Colin Cairnes. The film looks great, taking full advantage of the Australian locations, but it is this sense of fun that really hits home. The humour is often of a decidedly black nature, but from gross-out laughs to some particularly rib-tickling one-liners, the laughs are there, nestled in amongst some serious splatter moments that are sure to please the gorehounds out there.
Now, I may have made this film sound like it’s all jokes and fun, but there is plenty of proper horror here too, most of it as a direct result of Insidious’ Angus Sampson’s glowering performance as the dangerously deranged Linsday. He’s a big, intimidating man and with a mean stare and growl in his Antipodean drawl, he absolutely nails his role. So too does the inherently likeable Damon Herriman who gives his character some subtle nuance and actually makes him surprisingly sympathetic.
The trio of youngsters in the cast is also excellent, from the tough and spirited Anna McGahan to her hilarious male counterparts. The group is undoubtedly buoyed by having such a witty script with which to work, but, make no mistake, this is a sterling bunch of actors.
However, with its tight characterisation, realistic dialogue and unpredictable twists and turns, it was the script that impressed me most. The two Cairnses even manage to squeeze in a refreshing dissection of sex and gender equality, writing Sophie as by far the most liberated and adult character when it comes to intimacy, while Jamie’s bluster and confidence soon dissolves with a revelation of infidelity. What’s more the other male characters are also revealed to have their own hang-ups: Reg is repressed and terrified, Wes is a simple minded manchild and Lindsay… well, perhaps that’s better discovered for yourself. It’s nice to see genre films addressing sex in such a mature way.
Finally, like many other films coming our way as part of the new wave of Aussie horror such as the superb Wyrmwood, 100 Bloody Acres wears its ‘Australian-ness’ on its sleeve with unbridled joy. With a soundtrack full of great Australian folk music, dialogue rife with antipodean slang and the aforementioned Outback scenery, this is a film that revels in its origin and strikes all the truer for it. Think tie me kangaroo down… then hack it to pieces with a hatchet!
Is this the best horror comedy since Shaun of the Dead? I don’t think so. But with some real wit, a topnotch cast and plenty of gore to keep the scares coming with the sniggers, it IS a damn fine film.