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Sometimes, when you want to watch a horror film, you want abject exploitative fun (Cannibal Holocaust (1980), Black Emanuelle 06: In America (1977), New York Ripper, The (1982)). Other times, you want something a little bit meatier, something that challenges you to the core (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1, The (1974), Deadgirl (2008), Aftermath (1994), Irreversible (2002), Martyrs (2008)). Other times, you just want splatter fun with decent characters to keep things interesting (Dead Alive (1992), Evil Dead 1, The (1982), Halloween 1 (1978), High Tension (2003)). Finally, sometimes, you want to primordial brutality just to make you cringe a little. This film belongs to this latter category.
A married affluent couple takes a vacation and they rent a boat to go explore an Australian swamp. A storm forces them to abandon those plans and seek refuge. They think they are safe when they come across an isolated farm, only that the owners seem to be your typical degenerate hillbillies, and that they grow illegal pot. Fueled with paranoia and violence, the locals start lashing out at the couple. The confrontation escalates from bad to worse as the couple fights for their lives.
This is a very interesting movie, combining wonderful cinematography of the delta leading to the swamp area, and great performances from Nadia Fares and Robert Taylor as the couple. The writing is also very good as you get a great exposition of tensions in a couple as the situation around them escalates out of control. The traditional roles of male and female, that being of the protector and the protected, get switched, as it should be in any good horror film. Oscillating between cooperation and resentment, the basic arc of the couple in this film reminded me of Funny Games (2007) or Straw Dogs (1971) to some extent.
Then there is the gore, which is absolutely plentiful. There are some very brutal moments on screen, but they are somewhat heightened by the character exposition and the fact that for a while, the good guys seem to get the upper hand. Is brutality against the bad guys somewhat more enjoyable? In this story where the meek take this fight to the end very seriously, it absolutely is.
This is a simple horror film that will satisfy gorehounds, as well as people looking for deeper characters, people they can root for in times of life and death conflict. Although it has its fair share of frustrations (like the many times the couple could have escaped, but didn't), overall, it is well executed and will push some adrenaline through your veins. Among the masses of mediocre horror films i have seen recently, this one stands out as a fun movie.
- Laurent Hasson