100 BLOODY ACRES. Starring Damon Herriman, Angus Sampson, Anna McGahan, Oliver Ackland, and Jamie Kristian. Directed by Colin Cairnes and Cameron Cairnes. Rated MA15+. Restricted. (Strong violence and coarse language, blood and gore). 91 min.
This is an Australian comedy-thriller film in the horror genre. It aims to disgust, while also raising a smile.
Reg Morgan (Damon Herriman) and his dominating brother, Lindsay (Angus Sampson) are finding it hard to keep their blood-and-bone fertiliser business alive and well. They have developed an organic fertiliser, called "New Blend", and they are running out of stuff to put in it. Their premium grade product works wonders for the local farmers, who want more of it, but none of the farmers knows that the product contains human corpses minced up to guarantee its richness. The potassium from humans helps to make the fertiliser super-potent, and effective enough to "fertilise the Nullabor". In the past, they have been successful in their business by using car crash victims, and the occasional kangaroo, but now they need fresh supplies.
On the road to deliver the product in his truck, mild-mannered Reg comes upon three young people hitchhiking a ride and he picks them up. James (Oliver Ackland), his girlfriend Sophie (Anna McGahan) and their friend Wesley (Jamie Kristian) were in a vehicle that broke down while they were trying to get to a music festival. Reg wanted at first to pass them, but attracted by Sophie he decides to stop and offer them a lift. When the boys become aware of a crash victim lying in the back of Reg's truck, Reg takes the initiative to deliver all three to his sadistic brother for processing. In Lindsay's words, no one will hear their screams, because they will be on "100 Bloody Acres".
The brothers know that grinding the three up will reinvigorate their declining business, but things don’t go smoothly for either the brothers or the youths. Matters get increasingly complicated when Sophie falls for insecure Reg, who returns the attraction. For understandable reasons, Sophie becomes eager to please Reg, although she is playing around with both James and Wesley, unbeknownst to either of them.
It is hard to make a film that is genuinely horrific and comical at the same time, and this movie comes very close to doing just that. It aims for comedy throughout, but never pulls back from being as horrific as it can. Fortunately, the film is MA15+ and not the more extreme category, R, because there are lots of blood-spilling, corpse-grinding, body-cut ups, and gore. The movie is full of familiar Australian slang and humour that is delivered dead-pan by everyone in it, especially the two Morgan brothers. All the characters in the film just let the horror ride with them, milking it for its comic potential.
The film is a horror-comedy concoction that is incredibly ocher in its delivery, and mixes genuine Australian humour with a quirky musical score. The result is a bizarre movie set in regional Australia, that is thoroughly Australian in character, and very distinctive within the horror genre. In the film, situations become increasingly farcical, as in James’ terrified reaction to being lowered in chains into the Morgan brothers' bone grinding machine, while Sophie tries to distract Reg by flirting with him to the sounds of Australian Country Music. In this and other situations, the movie constantly forces engagement with its sick humour.
The Cairnes’ brothers have made a film that puts believable characters in a totally unrealistic environment, and they have directed a very gory movie. The predicament of everyone resolves itself in the end, with more than a touch of the ghoulish, but not without lots of comically sickening moments en route.
As things get worse, the movie descends into a shocker. It is clearly not suitable for all, but it is worth a visit if one has a hankering for crazy Aussie, horror humour. This is a movie that aims for originality, and definitely achieves it.
Peter W. Sheehan is associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.
Out August 1st 2013.