I love a bloody, gory horror flick. Especially one with a monster that oozes and drips foul disgustingness. Not every day, mind you, but no October is complete without a film that makes a mess out of its cast.
Boar, the 2017 horror flick from Australia, did very well scratching that bizarre itch. My biggest criticism is that, although it delivered the nasty goods, it was kind of a bummer. A film where half the cast is brutally killed, a bummer? Who would have thought, right? But, if horror flicks weren’t a good time, for the most part, they wouldn’t be so prevalent and so profitable. Maybe we viewers are just diseased.
Written and directed by Chris Sun, Boar, as the title implies, is about a wild boar. Like many good monster flicks, the threat in this flick is a real animal, scaled up to terrifying proportions. The boar in this flick is a colossal beast, comparable in size to a large rhinoceros.
The boar has been wandering around a rural town in Queensland, ripping up fences and killing livestock. That’s about it for plot. Really, that’s it. During the first act the audience is introduced to characters, but they just kind of go about their lives.
We meet local farmer Ken (John Jarratt) and his pub-owning daughter, Sasha (Melissa Tkautz); a tough old bloke named Blue (Roger Ward); and a family (Bill Mosely, Hugh Sheridan, Christie-Lee Britten, Simone Buchanan, and Griffin Walsh) in town to visit one of the clan, Bernie (Nathan Jones). Once the cast has been introduced, Sun maneuvers them into the wilderness so they can be attacked by the boar. He didn’t bother with any complicated setup or in-depth character development. There’s little drama with these characters, and no subplots. There are no evil corporations up to no good and everyone is who they seem to be. There is only one menace in this film, and it is the boar. Good. Sometimes keeping things simple works.
Being a simple monster flick, the film follows a familiar path. Characters become isolated here and there, and they find themselves attacked by the boar. There’s lots of pounding and hollering, and a growing amount of gore as the film goes on. Where this film doesn’t follow convention is who Sun picks as the boar’s victims. Without spoiling too much, this isn’t the kind of film where a viewer gets to root for a single character the whole way through. This contributes to the film being a bit of a bummer, but it’s not the main reason.
Rather, it’s the seriousness with which the characters react to the aftermath of a boar’s attack. It was a little too close to real shock and grief, which isn’t something I enjoy all that much in escapist fun.
What really makes this film, though, is the boar. It’s quite a sight to behold. Full body shots of the boar running were CGI, and those shots don’t look so hot. But in closeups Sun’s effects team (too numerous to name) created a very foul animatronic beast, with footlong tusks. The boar is suffering from some unnamed disease and it has a putrescent countenance. When it attacks it rips and tears flesh and can hold an animatronic dummy in its mouth. It’s a very gross creation and is the biggest selling point of this film.
Boar isn’t a perfect film. It was hard to form connections with the characters, lowering the stakes for the viewer, and some of the acting sounded like a first read. But the effects crew did an outstanding job (forgiving the instances here and there where the boar’s tusks jiggle like the rubber they are made of). For that, alone, Boar is worth a watch for horror fans.
Of final note is Bill Moseley’s aw shucks middle-aged suburban dad performance. It’s a rare chance to see him play a character in a horror flick who is not a psychotic killer. And he did a good job.