MIFF 2012 Review: 100 BLOODY ACRES Is A Bloody Good Time At The Movies
Here's a likely scenario for a fun genre piece: three friends Sophie (the lovely Anna McGahan) James (Oliver Ackland) and Wesley (James Kristian) are travelling through the countryside to a music festival, their car breaks down and amidst turbulent relations they have with one another, they flag down a van in desperation. Unbeknownst to them the simpleton driving it is one part of small business operation Morgan Organics. His name is Reg (Damon Herriman in a complex and hilarious performance) and he is clumsily hiding a secret, the secret to the fertilizer boosting business. This and a whole lot more comes out in the open when James and Wesley stumble upon what they shouldn't during the ride, and then it is back to the organics farm where Reg's headstrong and definitely crazier brother Lindsay (an unhinged Angus Sampson) decides to take matters into his own hands with gruesome consequences.
This may sound like a pretty familiar premise and in a lot of ways it is. There has not been a particular resurgence in Australian horror recently, but the Cairnes brothers, the directors of this fun and hackneyed film seem to be aware of this. Initial tropes and tense moments including the increasing suspicion in the van and the unlikeable and selfish protagonists take on a very delightful twist. The quickly established dysfunctions of couple Sophie and James and brothers Reg and Lindsay are used as a springboard to break through convention and introduce a complexity that severs most horror tropes evident in the film.
There is a fair amount of creativity employed by the directors, and other than the farcical nature of this bizarre small business, the manner in which they deal with their fertilizer is given full gory treatment. It would be disappointing if a film titled 100 Bloody Acres didn't deliver in this respect, but of course it does. This body horror comedy is set amongst some extreme Australiana and it will be interesting to gage international audience reaction to these colloquialisms.
Some scenes play out like satire. Wolf Creek, a successful serious Australian horror seems to be lampooned several times here to great effect and it was also a pleasure to see John Jarratt make a cameo in the film. Other noteworthy scenes include a brilliant running joke about a local radio station playing the Morgan Brothers ad; not only is the ad itself awful, but it is used as a gage to measure the brothers insanity, moving from loving the ad and being proud of it to hating it outright. In addition to the great score, 100 Bloody Acres utilizes country music well, both in establishing the scene but also cleverly reflecting the protagonists' feelings.
The tropey jerk Wesley plays like a poor man's Russell Brand and it is easy to get tired of him. Luckily though his character goes off the deep end and into some wonderful places that I will not spoil, suffice to say it involves a twisted fairyland. When Sophie later attempts to manipulate and seduce the affable Reg to release her, his responses to her prove at once distressing but also darkly funny and strangely involving Australian actress Rebecca Gibney. Such twisted moments with bizarre timing really make 100 Bloody Acres stand out from most horrors; it plays with convention and molds it into a sick and twisted form.
For lovers of original horror this is a must and I highly recommend it. I had a blast with 100 Bloody Acres - it is a laugh riot and completely bizarre, and a welcome entry into the Australian film scene.
Just one warning however, be prepared for a scene that is akin to the fried chicken in the film Killer Joe, good luck trying to get it out of your head!
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