Lightning fails to strike twice for John Jarratt in this soggy low-budget, flood-set thriller.

Lightning fails to strike twice for Aussie thesp John Jarratt in the soggy flood-set thriller “Savages Crossing.” In a blatant attempt to reprise the grinning psychopath of celebrated Oz slasher “Wolf Creek,” Jarratt stars, scripts and exec produces what amounts to a clumsy homemovie. Despite a cast of well-liked, competent home-grown thesps, pic was greeted with local indifference. Unsuspecting international genre fests may be tempted to look, but this film underachieves even as schlock.

Fresh from rehab, well-dressed psychotic Phil (John Jarratt) comes looking for his fearful wife (Angela Punch McGregor) and grown-up son (Charlie Jarratt), who have fled. The family reunites at a Queensland truck stop near the titular river, and several innocent (and not-so-innocent) bystanders get caught in the domestic dispute’s crossfire. Limp yarn plods along under Kevin James Dobson’s lackluster direction, which applies slo-mo in a futile attempt to raise tension along with the yarn’s flood waters. A talented cast of Oz thesps wades through, but Jarratt’s placement of his inexperienced son in a pivotal role amounts to parental abuse. Bombastic score by thesp Craig McLachlan jars nerves more than the plot. Tech credits are cheap.

Savages Crossing

Australia

Production

A Winnah Films production. (International sales: Winnah Films, Brisbane.) Produced by Irene Dobson. Executive producers, Simon Mathias, John Jarratt, Cody Jarratt. Directed by Kevin James Dobson. Screenplay, John Jarratt, Cody Jarratt, based on an idea by Gary Whiteman.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Geoff Cox; editor, Steve Cooper; music, Craig McLachlan; production designer, Robert Webb. Reviewed at Cinema 2, Chauvel Cinema, Paddington, Sydney May, 15, 2010. Running time: 80 MIN.

With

John Jarratt, Craig McLachlan, Sacha Horler, Jessica Napier, Rebecca Smart, Chris Haywood, Angela Punch McGregor, Charlie Jarratt.

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