Director: Josh Reed
Starring: Zoe Tuckwell-Smith, Krew Boylan, Lindsay Farris, Rebekah Foord, Damien Freeleagus, Will Traval, Mark Saunders
Plot: Anja (Tuckwell-Smith) and her friends are looking for a remote collection of cave paintings in the bushlands of the Australian outback, unaware of an ancient evil lurking in the area, which soon turns the fun loving Mel (Boylan) into a primal savage who soon starts hunting the rest of the group.
Review: When it comes to producing great horror Australia has frequently been able to pull out surprising and original horror films, even if the output of the country has been more sporadic since the glory days of the Ozploitation era. This film however is not one of the more memorable films as of late. Frustratingly this is not a bad film, but rather a decidedly average one, which for every great idea it throws out there, it then proceeds to throw something stupid into the mix and inturn throwing the film off.
Opening with the usual setup of friends heading out to some remote location, only to soon find themselves way out of their depth, it essentially doesn’t deviate from the usual checklist which once again left me wondering when we will actually have a horror film, were you don’t have every character figured out within the first five minutes. Still it is not too long before Mel suddenly takes on a more savage form with director Reed wasting no time on a gradual transformation as she goes from bubbly blonde to frenzied killer in a matter of minutes. True it isn’t a huge change seeing how this monstrous form basically consists of a pair of black contacts and a set of monstrous teeth which is no discredit to the film as while a simple change it is still an effective one and one fitting of the savage nature she takes on.
Here of course lies the first of the many issues with this film, in that the reason for this sudden change is never really explained, outside of suggesting that the evil spirit / worm thing in the caves has the power to turn anything which comes into contact with the nearby lake into a primal beast. Sadly the only things we see it affecting other than Mel and later group leader Dace (Traval) is a couple of rabbits, a bunch of leaches and the midge population which suddenly develops the ability to eat anything from tents to car tyres. The confusion is only added to by the random scenes of Mel tossing half eaten carcasses in the cave entrance to supposedly please whatever it is that lives I the cave. Half-baked plot ideas though are frustratingly the order of the day here and frequently proved to drag the film down every time it seem to established the direction the story was going to go, even more frustratingly when it seemed to have established a plot line involving trying to capture Mel, using a variety of Guerrilla tactics which felt in many ways like a nod to “Predator” especially when they construct a net trap which bizarrely seemed to be as far as their planning goes though in surreal moment, this lack of forward planning is even acknowledged by Dace and Warren (Freeleagus), who look up at the now trapped Mel and question what to do next. I mean seriously how can you build any kind of non-lethal trap without planning on what to do when it actually works?!?
On the flip side of these plotting issues the film does manage to pull out a few surprises mainly in the form of personality switches between characters, with the carefree joker actually having a sensitive side and a seemingly bookish member actually hiding an inner badass in one the more memorable confrontations between the group and their primal former friends. Honestly this did help break up the predictability of the plotting which sticks largely to the usual character clichés, while equally failing by this same effect to give us a satisfying final girl as neither of the remaining female characters manager to step up while one seems to be kept around for the sole purpose of cramming in an unwanted monster rape plot line (complete with mutant fetus). Such a disappointing lack of noticeable final girl has a lot to do with the casting, as none of the cast are particularly memorable, but this seems to be just another sign of the times when it comes to modern horror, especially when every new horror frequently seems like a GQ spread, with actors being seemingly chosen for their physical appeal rather than acting ability. This of course is unless you’re in an Eli Roth movie and then it’s more about your willingness to get naked.
Ultimately this film is forgettable at best and outside of a curious watch, it is doubtful that it will hold your interest to warrant a second. True there is a number of good idea, but these have to be found amongst the numerous half-baked ones, which frequently take away from the film, much like the lack of connection I felt with any of the characters and hence found it even harder to care about the situation they are in, much less find the enthusiasm to write this one up so approach with caution.