Boar first published by SciFiNow
Ever since the Greek myth of the Calydonian boar, monstrous feral pigs have been a source of terror, rooting their way through the undergrowth of films like Hayao Miyazaki’s eco-epic anime Princess Mononoke (1997), James Isaacs’ Orwellian Iraq allegory Pig Hunt (2008) and Shin Jung-won’s playful pastiche Chaw (2009). The granddaddy of all these was Russell Mulcahy’s highly stylised Razorback (1984), scripted by Ozploitation’s greatest writer Everett de Roche (Long Weekend, Patrick, Road Games), and tracking a killer boar at large in the Australian outback – and so, in setting his latest film in the hinterlands of rural Queensland, writer/director Chris Sun is going back to source. It helps that Australia really does have razorbacks, although, as several characters point out, none quite as large as the ‘overgrown diseased fucker’ featured in Boar.
Outside a small, one-pub town, something is damaging fences and killing livestock. People have been disappearing too. And being in a tent, or even in a big four-wheel drive, appears to afford no protection. We have a pretty good idea what is causing this, both from the film’s title, and also from the grunts and growls that accompany the first kills – although we might suspect that there is something more complicated underlying what is going on. “I’ve seen Charlie’s Farm,” as Robert (Hugh Sheridan) says, referring to Sun’s previous feature, “There’s creeps out there ready to cut you up, rape you.” In Boar, there really aren’t – although the film’s running joke is to cast lots of actors who have previously played the perpetrators of entirely human massacres.
So, here John Jarratt, famous for playing the murderous Mick Taylor in the Wolf Creek franchise, and even seen here fondling the kind of hunting knife that Mick loves to sport, is in fact kindly old bushman Ken, reduced to tears when he sees the broken bodies of boar’s victims. Ken’s best friend Blue, also helpful and brave, is played by Roger Ward, i.e. the sadistic camp guard Ritter from Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Turkey Shoot (1982). Bill Moseley, best known as the psychokillers ‘Chop Top’ from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), Otis from House of 1000 Corpses (2003) and John Willson from Charlie’s Farm (2014), is here a loving and completely out-of-his-depth father, not even remotely convincing when he warns Robert, his would-be son-in-law, “If you hurt her, I will hurt you back.” Last but not least is Nathan ‘Megaman’ Jones, whose titanic physicality has previously seen him cast as Rictus Erectus in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) and as Charlie himself in Charlie’s Farm, but who is here cast as gentle giant Uncle Bernie, engaging in violence only against a man verbally and physically disrespecting bar owner Sasha (Melissa Tkautz).
It is a neat in-joke – but the downside of having a horror film populated with nice guys is that there is no real drama. Instead we get amusingly insulting – if overlong and somewhat aimless – banter between characters who are not especially interesting, offset by the gradual revelation of the creature itself and its tusky, toothy ravagings of human flesh, which also become repetitive. Add to that the derivative nature of the plot, and you can see the title’s inherent riskiness playing itself out. For while Boar plainly advertises the big beast to come, it also hints homophonously at an absence of sufficient entertainment to see us through its duration.
Strap: Chris Sun’s creature feature pits a rural Queensland community against an outsized, predatory razorback.
© Anton Bitel