Three friends are driving across Australia. In a particularly desolate national park, their car mysteriously dies, and they accept help from a passing bushman. Big mistake. The bushman (John Jarrat) is a psycho of the first order.
That’s a brief synopsis, and it could have been even briefer. When it comes to storyline, things don’t get much more basic than this film. Sure, there’s all sorts of character development in the early goings, but that turns out to be a mean-spirited (and …uccessful) tactic to bind us to the characters before the nastiness gets going. And things are nasty indeed. The suspense is excruciating, the violence very personal and very painful, and the film is one very black, black journey. Like High Tension, it recreates the savagery of the 70s horror films without being a slavish remake.
The sound is extremely immersive. Whether one is hearing the opening sound of waves, the babble of a party, the crying of birds, or the sighing of wind, all of these elements fully surround the viewer. The placement is generally very good, and if there are a couple of over-enthusiastic uses of the rear speakers, the overall effect makes these moments more than forgivable. The dialogue doesn’t distort, in spite of the copious screaming. And the music has an absolutely propulsive bass to it.
There is no grain at all during the daylight scenes, and what is present during the night sequences adds grit, rather than detracting from the film. The colours are very strong, with an opening shot that is absolutely eye-popping. Flesh tones, blacks and contrasts are all excellent, too. This is a very nice transfer of a very handsome-looking piece of unmitigated nastiness. It does my heart good to see such things.
The commentary features writer/director Greg McLean, exec-producer Matt Hearn and stars Cassandra Magrath and Kestie Morassi. As is often the case with so many cooks, the broth is a bit silly, though there is still plenty of good behind-the-scenes info to be gleaned. The making-of documentary, at 50 minutes, is more detailed and sharper than most. There is one deleted scene, and trailers for this and other releases. The menu’s main screen is animated and scored.
Nice sound, nice picture, gruesomely unpleasant work. That’s good enough for me.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Making-of Documentary
- Deleted Scene
- Theatrical Trailers