Recently released in Aussie cinemas, and elsewhere around the world on VOD platforms is the helluva fun comedy-horror flick 100 Bloody Acres (2012). Hopefully this film can gain a decent audience around the parts, because it really deserves it. Plus it would be great to see those behind the film, such as the brotherly directorial team of Colin and Cameron Cairnes, get more chances to show off their stuff.
Set in rural Australia, the film follows the Morgan brothers, small business owners with a massive fertiliser contract to fill. Only trouble is that the phenomenal batch of fertilizer they previously supplied happened to contain a secret ingredient… human bodies. An ingredient in short supply. At the beginning of the film, the younger of the siblings Reg finds a body in the wreckage of a car accident. So he snaffles it and heads back to the farm. On his way there, he stumbles across three festival goers, hitchhiking their way to the gig. Reg, eager to impress his big brother, picks them up with a view to turning them into fertiliser. Only, the Morgans aren’t murderers. At least not yet. All the other bodies they included in their product were just found in car crashes.
Back at the Morgan Brothers farm is where the ‘fun’ really starts. It is also where the older brother Lindsay, played by Angus Sampson, makes his first appearance. Sampson will be known to overseas readers from his work in James Wan’s Insidious (2011) and to Aussie readers from a bunch of (predominately comedic) things. Including a bunch of star turns in the Aussie show Thank God You’re Here such as this one:
Whilst the entire cast is good, Sampson is definitely the star here. He plays somewhat against type, being really quite menacing and overbearing and also strikes up a really good chemistry with Damon Herriman who plays his onscreen younger brother. Speaking of Herriman, he provides a well-meaning, if a little dopey foil to Sampson’s unhinged menace. The plot of the film is a clever inversion of the paranoia around hitchhikers in the Aussie outback. All three of the actors who play the hitchhikers are really good, especially so is Anna McGahan as Sophie. She does really well in a role that had it been poorly brought to life could have cruelled the film and made some of the bolder moments in the film feel utterly absurd. Also, this film features by far the best John Jarrett cameo of the past 12 months. Take that Tarantino.
Whilst the mixing of comedy and horror has been done really well by quite a number of films, plenty more have failed miserably in trying to pull it off. Some forget to put any menace or suspense into the horror elements. Whilst others are just miserably unfunny and embarrassing in their attempts to do so. 100 Bloody Acres hits the spot. After a gentle, wry start, the gore picks up quite a lot and whilst the ending is perhaps never in doubt, there is still a decent amount of suspense around exactly how things are going to go down. As for the comedy, it is a definite success, with the laughs ranging from the subtle to the hilarious character of Reg and his interactions with Sophie and ‘Bex’. The other thing aside from humour that the script does really well is that it actually makes you care about the characters. So often in horror/slasher type films the attitude seems to be, we are going to kill them anyway, so why bother making these people interesting? 100 Bloody Acres, while not dwelling over minutely detailed back stories, gives enough interesting tidbits for each character and especially the relationships between them to make you invested in what happens to them. Whether you are cheering for them to end up ground to a bloody fertiliser pulp, or hoping they can avoid that fate altogether. The film also looks really sharp, the cinematography makes the rural settings pop and also picks up every last little bit of grime and gore.
It is really good to see an Aussie comedy-horror film such as 100 Bloody Acres getting a relatively wide release. Even without the comedic elements, this film would be a serviceable little horror flick. But the fact that the humour is well executed and the performances all round hit the spot, make this right up there with my favourite Aussie flicks of the year so far. Go check it out.
Verdict: Pint of Kilkenny