23rd Jul2013

’100 Bloody Acres’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Damon Herriman, Angus Sampson, Anna McGahan, Oliver Ackland, Jamie Kristian, John Jarratt | Written and Directed by Cameron Cairnes, Colin Cairnes

100-B-Acres-cast

Australia and New Zealand have a fine tradition of mixing comedy and horror to superb effect. Be it the early work of Peter Jackson such as Bad Taste and Brain Dead, or more recent efforts such as Primal and The Loved Ones, horror from down under always seems to walk a very fine line be laughs and scares, and 100 Bloody Acres is no different.

The Morgan Brothers’ “Blood and Bone” fertiliser has been a huge boon to their business but there’s a catch to its production – they’ve been using dead car crash victims in the mix! However it’s been months since their last find and an important new customer is waiting on a delivery. When Reg Morgan, the junior partner in the business, comes across three young people stranded on a remote country road, he sees a radical solution to their supply problems, and a way of finally gaining the respect of his bossy big brother, Lindsay. But things don’t quite go to plan when Reg starts forming an attachment with one of their captives, Sophie. Reg must now make a decision: go through with the plan and finally win Lindsay’s approval, or save the kids and destroy everything the brothers have worked for.

The debut feature from the Cairnes brothers, 100 Bloody Acres is a strange film. Filled with oddball characters and off-kilter comedy, the film manages to evoke similarities to the backwoods hillbilly horror seen in the 70s and early 80s US cinema, most noticeably The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (with which it shares the idea of humans as “meat). But at the same time the film also shares the streak of black humour found in the work of the Cohen brothers – especially the likes of Blood Simple and Fargo. So why is the film so damn dull?

It’s not hard to put a finger on why 100 Bloody Acres doesn’t work. The cast are uniformally excellent – the two “villains” of the piece are particular standouts. Damon Herriman, as the younger of the two Morgan Brothers, gives a manic performance, walking a fine line between complete lunatic and complete idiot. Meanwhile Angus Sampson, as older brother Lindsay Morgan, is one of the scariest “straight” men in horror, showing zero emotion, in the total psychopath sense! The pair bounce well off each other and the script gives them plenty of witty one-liners – in fact the script is filled with some truly black humor, be it the banter between the brothers or the outburst between their captives. However there are huge gaps of where nothing much happens – chases scenes, walks around the farm, phone calls etc. This slows the pace of the movie right down. And that’s where the problem lies…

With some tighter editing and an increased pace 100 Bloody Acres could have been yet another neo-classic from down under; as it stands now it more of an also-ran. If you want to see black humor at work in a great Aussie horror, check out The Loved Ones instead.

** 2/5

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