100 Bloody Acres (2013)

100 Bloody Acres first published by Grolsch FilmWorks

“You know what they say,” observes British backpacker (and keen drug taker) Wes (Jamie Kristian), “You can take the country out of the country girl, but you can’t take the country boy out of the country girl’s c…” – the last word tactfully drowned out by the sound of a car door slamming.

Wes is talking about fellow traveller Sophie (Anna McGahan), a city girl who, once returned to the outback where she was born, is quick to shift her gaze from wet, urban boyfriend James (Oliver Ackland) to the easier charms of dim, good-natured local Reg Morgan (Damon Herriman). Accepting a lift from Reg, the cityslickers chance upon some human roadkill hidden in the back of his truck, and find themselves in the clutches of Reg and his dominating brother Lindsay (Angus Sampson) at a time when, to stay afloat, the Morgans’ family business desperately needs some extra oomph in their agricultural fertiliser.

The basic template for 100 Bloody Acres is outback Ozploitation in which urbanised tourists encounter the savagery of the Australian interior – think Road Games (1981), Wolf Creek (2005) and Storm Warning (2007) or, if you like, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) relocated to Yandoit, Victoria. Yet in this clash of city and country, newbie writer/directors Cameron and Colin Cairnes are determined to take some pleasing detours from the well-trodden road of backwoods butchery – and so they keep finding ways to disrupt and redirect their characters’ generic trajectories.

Of course it is entirely conventional that the three travellers should venture off the highway (and so find themselves trapped in the middle of nowhere), but it is altogether less so that Wes’ attempt to flee should be overtaken by the peak of his acid high, or that Lindsay’s ‘small business’-oriented slaughter should be interrupted by a visit from his sweet if randy aunt (Chrissie Page), or that Sophie should reject a perfect opportunity to escape because she has started wondering whether her bumbling bumpkin of a captor might after all be a better catch than her controlling boyfriend.

Not unlike their fictional pair of brothers, the Cairnes take the blood, bone and shit from other films, cut in some rustic romance and stoner comedy, and grind it all together into an agreeably homegrown blend. Despite literal bucketloads of gore, any real sense of horror here is constantly undercut by the screenplay’s hilarious sense of the absurd – and by some thigh-thumpingly funny dialogue. For along with their two-timing heroine Sophie, the Cairnes brothers cannot quite decide whether they love or hate the Antipodean countryside, and so opt for affectionately acidic mockery. The results are idiosyncratic Aussie comedy gold – and that’s a Morgan brothers guarantee.

© Anton Bitel