For a country that swings a heavy censorship stick, Australian filmmakers have produced some bloody horror flicks. The country that produced Wolf Creek, Wyrmwood, Boar, and others, also has a sanctimonious ‘classification’ board whose sole purpose is to make sure Aussies never read or see anything that might bother them too much. It’s okay to have rape and drugs and murder in media, but there’s a mysterious line that media must not cross, or it gets banned. That’s not to say that imaginary delineation doesn’t exist here in the US, what with the MPAA and other groups who have taken it upon themselves to censor on the behalf of everyone, but even by America’s puritan standards, Australia’s censorship is a little much. So, I think it’s refreshing when an Aussie horror flick comes along that features a face being peeled off by an axe, or arms yanked from their sockets. Give me liberty and give me death, the bloodier the better.
From last year, The Furies (as of this writing a Shudder exclusive) is bloody, bloody, and bloody. Writer/director Tony D’Aquino and company went heavy on practical effects, with CGI used only for cleanup here and there. Victims experience gruesome injuries inflicted by Texas Chainsaw Massacre-inspired killers. One killer’s outfit is sheathed with the skin and muscle from a corpse, and bedecked with ankles and feet.
That’s right. Killers. Plural. The Furies is a slasher flick featuring no less than half a dozen slashers chasing down and killing an equal number of women in a remote Australian forest. But, this isn’t just a violence against women flick. The slashers, for reasons explained in the film, also kill each other. In fact, everyone tries to kill everyone. What a glorious dance.
Airlie Dodds stars as Kayla. Her backstory and personality traits don’t matter. What little character development there is takes place in the first couple of minutes, before D’Aquino puts her in a box, literally, and then releases her into the forest to fend for herself. The other scream queens that feature are Linda Ngo as Rose, Ebony Vagulans as Maddie, Taylor Ferguson as Sheena, Kaitlyn Boyé as Alice, and Harriet Davies as Sally. The masked killers are played by Steve Morris, Ben Toyer, Leon Stripp, and Dean Gould. For those counting, Morris and Stripp played more than one killer. How versatile — à la Peter Sellers.
Anyway, killers and their intended victims run around the woods and an abandoned mining camp, in ways that will be familiar to horror fans. There isn’t much new ground covered by this film, making it somewhat anonymous. It seems as if D’Aquino had a vision for a gory horror flick, and came up with the plot and its twist to fit the gore. It’s a backwards way of constructing a film that, while not impossible to make work, also makes clear that the spectacle was the point all along.
The good news is that none of this film appeared lazy or mailed in. The gore shots are meticulous, the sets well-realized, and the cast capable. Ngo was a delight, although her role was a bit cartoonish at times. Everyone was a pro.
It all comes back to that lack of anything new, however. If one is a bloodhound, this film will provide a hell of a fix. The violence is nasty, but also doesn’t quite reach the level of torture porn. Anyone looking for a fantastic story of horror will probably get bored early on. If they manage to hang on until the epilogue, they might wonder what was the point of it all. Horror fans could do worse than spending 82 minutes with The Furies.