A gory and funny riff on the trusty standby of city kids being menaced by rural types, "100 Bloody Acres" reps a promising feature debut for Aussie brothers Colin and Cameron Cairnes.

A gory and funny riff on the trusty standby of city kids being menaced by rural types, “100 Bloody Acres” reps a promising feature debut for Aussie brothers Colin and Cameron Cairnes. Pumping fresh juice into the formula by way of villains driven by economic imperatives rather than bloodlust, and victims more concerned with workshopping relationship issues than escaping certain death, the pic is primed to please gorehounds and has sufficient smarts to attract more upscale viewers. World-preemed at Melbourne, “Acres” is a natural for fest sidebars; strong worldwide ancillary is assured. Local release details are pending.

Co-helming their Slamdance-competition-winning screenplay, the Cairnes take time to establish interesting characters and engaging plot strands, which pay off handsomely in the end. The opening reel is more steady than spectacular as auds are introduced to free-spirited Sophie (Anna McGahan), her uptight b.f. James (Oliver Ackland), and Wes (Jamie Kristian), their annoying Cockney friend along for the ride to a country music festival.

The young trio are given a ride by Reg Morgan (Damon Herriman), a nervous but likable guy who runs a fertilizer business with his hulking and domineering brother Lindsay (Angus Sampson). Naturally, the Morgans have discovered human blood-and-bone is the magic ingredient in a new mix that will rescue their ailing business. And naturally, the city slickers are willing to be taken for a ride.

Gore and gags flow freely once the travelers are lined up for an appointment with the meat-mincing machine. Playing on Reg’s insecurities and figuring him for a nice guy beneath it all, Sophie puts her considerable charms to work. For his part, James gleans that Sophie’s been up to no good with Wes and demands a no-confessions-barred examination of their relationship, even if it costs them their hopes of survival. Transforming from the most unappealing character to the funniest, Wes spends much of the movie in a hilarious LSD haze after the dose he took earlier in the day starts to kick in.

The pic fairly rockets to the finish line as corpses pile up, Reg finally gets the nerve to stand up to Lindsay, and the brothers’ much talked-about old Aunt Nancy (Chrissie Page) makes a jaw-dropping personal appearance.

Perfs are aces. McGahan is luminous with a wicked twinkle in her character’s eye, and Herriman is outstanding as the knockabout Aussie bloke with a malapropism habit.

Topnotch widescreen lensing of rolling hills outside Adelaide, terrific makeup effects work, and a fabulous collection of quirky Aussie songs of the 1970s are highlights of a thoroughly pro tech package.

100 Bloody Acres

Australia

Production

A Hopscotch Films release of a Screen Australia, Cyan Films presentation in association with South Australian Film Corp., Film Victoria, Melbourne Intl. Film Festival Premiere Fund, the Works of a Cyan Films production in association with Major Intl. Pictures. (International sales: The Works, London.) Produced by Julie Ryan, Kate Croser. Executive producers, Jonathan Page, Bryce Menzies, Costa Theo. Directed, written by Colin Cairnes, Cameron Cairnes.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen, HD-to-35mm), John Brawley; editors, Dale Dunne, Joshua Waddell; music, Glenn Richards; production designer, Tony Cronin; art director, Chris Jobson; costume designer, Chloe Spalding; sound (Dolby Digital), Pete Smith; visual effects supervisor, Adam White; stunt coordinator, Reg Roordink; assistant director, Brad Lanyon; casting, Christine King, David Newman. Reviewed at Melbourne Film Festival (Night Shift), Aug. 11, 2012. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Damon Herriman, Angus Sampson, Anna McGahan, Oliver Ackland, Jamie Kristian, Chrissie Page, John Jarratt.

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