Okay, the general thing with horror movies these days is that you know going in that you are about to see one. That is what made Psycho so horrifying way back in 1961 - people didn't know what they were in for. And now, ladies and gentlemen, we are indeed in the year 2005. I knew that after a while of watching the three main characters (played my Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi and Nathan Phillips) that eventually they would end up in a brutally terrifying situation.
Thing is, in this films case I think it worked incredibly well for the movie. The scenes up to the arrival of a certain man (portrayed with absolute evil in his veins, by local legend John Jarratt) are joyous to watch. These character are geniunly fun to watch. They're funny (as in funny hah hah. We were all laughing). They're bright. They're not the typical the-world-would-be-better-without-you horror cliches. And every now and then you actually remember you're watching a horror movie and that overwhelming (definitely the correct word in his case) sense of dread that, as i said before, soon enough they will be faced with horrific events.
There is a scene between two of the road trippers where they share a why-the-hell-not kiss. That, mere minutes later, their nightmare begins is just tragic. I can't help but wonder what Psychos (or any other of that ilk) audiences thought the moment that that shower curtain opened up, but I can tell you this - the moment that John Jarratt's Mick Taylor arrived on scene I was petrified. That laugh. That look. The fact that Jarratt's performance immediately goes down in the anals of film as one of the all-time-evils. Shortly after he arrives on scene there was a scene that encapsulates the entire film. Taylor has rigged the three teens broken down car (yes, that plot device) to his own so he can tow it all the way back to his camp, which is "a fair way" away. The three kids stay in their own car watching the silhouette of this man in the car infront. Cut to an exterior view of the two cars going ever so slowly out of sight, the car lights disappearing in the distance. Hope is now officially lost. And that is scarier than anything I can remember seeing in the cinema.
What follows is indeed some of the most harrowing stuff to witness. Several parts (THIS is a knife) are particularly nasty, others are rather sad (a video tape of what we can only assume was another victim for example), others you just want to stop. I admit I was squirming. I was sitting there, telepathically trying to get these characters to not go in that room, or to duck so he can't see them, etc. I wanted these people to get out alive.
And I think that's the best aspect of the movie. You legitimately care about these characters. You want to see them escape. You want to cheer alongside Kristie (Kestie Morassi) when something goes their way. That the gore itself isn't as bad as some people have said, I was thankful. It needent be gorier than it is.
I think I'm rambling, but whatever. I had a response to this film. I felt something. I'm not saying it's great (although it will indeed go down in Australian film history), several aspects were quite flawed (why didn't she bash his head?), and it's definitely not even the best that horror can supply, but the fact that I felt something is something in itself.
Greg McLean's debut is very polished. The striking cinematography is always great to fawn over, despite the moments of cruelty on screen. The music too perfectly strikes a chord. The performances all feel great. The three kids (the only one I was familiar with was Nathan Phillips) take their roles and scream through them with aplomb (AFI Nominee (for this film) Kestie Morassi was my particular fave, that laugh! TAKE THAT YOU ASSHOLE!), and John Jarratt is evil personified ("How bout i cut yer tits off?"). It's slick, it's morbid, it's what a horror movie should be.
Oh, and you can also welcome the latest addition to the Australian clip show. The scene where are frantic and bloodied Kestie Morassi runs down an isolated Outback road (see below) can go alongside the girls at Hanging Rock, the women on the beach in The Piano and Paul Mercurio sliding across the dancefloor in Strictly Ballroom (among others) as iconic moments in Australian cinema. That I can imagine Joanne Lees and many others (of whom this movie is based on the real life happenings of) doing the exact same thing in real life is scary and saddening. What a scary world we live in.
I must also give a big ol' "WTF?" to The Weinstein Company for their decision on a poster of the film.
Here is one of the Australian posters for the film.
Here is another.
Those are some excellent posters. One using the image of a bloodied girl on the side of a road (can't you just tell what the film is about?) and another using the most haunting image from the movie. But for the American poster, what did they decide to go with?
What on earth does that have to do with anything? If I had seen that and didn't know about the movie I'd think something to do with bad heavily saturated polaroid photos. "The Thrill Is In The Hunt?" ...blech. This ain't no light horror movie. It just looks like they're trying to pretty it up. I hate it.
Anyway. Moving on.
I also saw Tim Burton's Corpse Bride tonight, but I'll discuss that tomorrow.