Review: 100 Bloody Acres

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Your parents always told you never to accept rides from strangers; you never know whose car you’re getting into. That is a general truism and one that is exploited quite often in horror cinema.  The kindest and most dim-witted are the ones you need to look out for.  Case in point, 100 Bloody Acres.

The film starts off with the strange introduction of Reg (House of Wax’s Damon Herriman) who finds a man wrecked on the side of the road and proceeds to stash the body in his delivery truck. A weird but decent idea I guess, until he runs across three hitchhikers, one of whom he cannot resist. The hitchhikers, Wesley (Jamie Kristian), James (Oliver Ackland), and Sophie (Anna McGahan) are on their way to a music festival, but a broken down car alters their fate. Reg, not thinking with his big head, (though if he was, I doubt that he would have arrived at a different conclusion), puts the guys in the back with the dead body so he can be alone with Sophie. Soon, the guys find the body which puts all their lives in danger. It turns out that Reg owns an organic fertilizer business with his brother, Lindsay (Angus Sampson). The production has been bad and it seems that Sophie and the boy’s nightmare is just beginning.

The setup is fun and manages to put a smile on your face without slipping into outright comedy. It’s a good balance that keeps the proper tone all the way through. That is helped, of course, by the intriguing and real relationship between Sophie and James. This isn’t a simple hillbilly horror film but a somewhat gory thriller that puts real living breathing characters in bad situations. Turmoil abounds in this film but not in a chaotic way. There is a method to the madness at work and a statement to be made about love, expectation and desire buried within the simple story. In fact, at its core, this is a John Hughes-style story of boy meets girl. I can’t go into too much detail without ruining the surprises that this film has in store, but the actors are spot on.

Damon Herriman plays his usual dim-witted role with a true sense of truth that really grounds him in some sort of believable reality. Angus Sampson (Insidious, Mad Max: Fury Road), is unnerving as the older brother and brains of the operation. He is cold and mean but in a familiar way that sends a shiver down the spine as he could be someone we know in our everyday life.

As for the kids, it is clearly Anna McGahan’s show as she is the one that not only sets the plot in motion, but whose presence drives it. She is a country girl who is perhaps trying to be more than she was brought up to be and been living a lie because of it. Her performance drops subtle hints so when things come to light, they don’t seem contrived or random. Same goes for Oliver Ackland as James. He has little time to convey the type of person he is but does manage to give us a snap shot of is straight arrow corporate self in, once again, a believable real world way. Perhaps the one wild card is Jamie Kristian as Wesley. A pot smoker and all around ass that every group seems to have, Wesley is both comic relief and a source of irritation. He’s like the high school party animal that forgot that high school is over!

Each character ads something to the plot and is given a moment to shine and surprise us. For example, Nancy, a seemingly innocent older lady, drops our jaws with a perverse and very human turn that you just don’t see coming.

Also, look for a cameo from one of our favorite Aussie psychos as a motor cop who runs afoul of Lindsay.

Directors Cameron and Colin Cairnes’ first feature is a solid introduction their skill to marry horror with developed characters and one skill that is definitely needed in our genre. This is a film that I recommend whole heartedly. It’s not changing the rules but working within the conventions to create a solid foray into “Hillbillie Horror” from an Australian point of view. After all, there are crazy people everywhere.