Two English tourists are terrorized Down Under in British-Aussie co-production “Gone,” a clumsy, secondhand stab at the youth slasher market. Pursuing more ambitious (and more successful) pics like “Wolf Creek” and “Hostel,” this outing is cut-and-dried with minimal suspense, uninspiring thesps and a predictable script. Backpacksploitationer will go quickly to ancillary, where its afterlife should be durable, especially among Brits who regard the antipodes as a colonial version of the Deep South.
After several delays, the film finally went out in Blighty on March 9; Oz release is currently set for late May. No Stateside date is set for the pic, which was also known at one stage as “Middle of Nowhere.”
Fresh off the plane from the U.K., Alex (Shaun Evans) is about to embark north along the Oz backpacker trail to be reunited with longtime g.f. Sophie (Amelia Warner). However, on his first night in Sydney, Alex hooks up with shady Yank Taylor (Scott Mechlowicz), who takes him out on the town and photographs him in a compromising position.
The next day, to make amends, Taylor offers to drive Alex to his destination and later makes a show of disposing of the incriminating photograph. Arriving at the North Coast youth hostel, Taylor suggests that Alex, Sophie and Sophie’s German traveling buddy, Ingrid (Zoe Tuckwell-Smith), all take a road trip in his car.
By next morning, Ingrid has disappeared — which Taylor blithely explains away before suggesting the three of them journey on together. It gradually becomes more apparent to Alex that Taylor has sexual designs on Sophie and is trying to drive a wedge between the couple.
Mechlowicz has a suitably menacing air as a lightweight Iago figure. Unfortunately, neither Evans nor Warner has much to work with in the script by James Watkins (co-writer of the original story for spycam thriller “My Little Eye”) and Andrew Upton (Mr. Cate Blanchett), which simply connects already well-traced dots.
A late switch in narrative emphasis from Alex to Sophie as the central character feels more like poor script construction than anything else, and the distaff characters’ weak-willed motivations are lazy and generic. In his feature debut, U.K. commercials helmer Ringan Ledwidge shows a workmanlike competency, and widescreen lensing by Ben Seresin makes good use of diverse Oz locations. Other credits are pro.