WARNING: This Article May Contain Spoilers
Aussie horror can usually go one of two ways – extremely cheesy or down right terrifying. However, a few of the films mentioned below do slightly take the road less travelled and end up somewhere in between. I’m gutted to say that I was unable to get hold of probably the cheesiest Aussie horror film around, I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer, but if it comes available anywhere, I highly recommend giving it a watch just to give yourself a good laugh.
This film ticks two massive boxes for me. One: (and I know I harp on about this being the key to any horror film) isolation. Two: the small cast – it’s possibly become a really important aspect of any film for me. Think Open Water but with crocodiles instead of sharks. I don’t know how they do it but the one thing the Aussies seem to be great at is films based on true stories. If you’ve seen Wolf Creek you’ll know what I’m talking about (just had to casually name-drop another Aussie horror film there). Truthfully, I couldn’t find the extent of what actually happened back in December 2003 but if it was anything as harrowing as this film – my heart goes out to the real family. Honestly, I was hooked from the moment they hit the water.
Before watching this film, I never thought the guttural snort of porcine (you know, pigs and things) could be so unnerving. However, this film really does use the sound to its advantage. On top of that, the great thing about this and a lot of Aussie cinema, is the juxtaposition. What I mean is, a lot of the film feels like you’re watching a soap opera – like Neighbours or Home and Away – which makes the deaths that take place much more shocking. This is also the way they break the tension. For example when Ken hears what we assume to be the boar, I mean it’s such a haunting noise that it turned me cold, and responds with ‘What the fuck was that?’ I felt immediately at ease again and giggled. I’m not sure if that’s down to the Aussie accent or what but it did the trick. To me, it also helps you to feel for the characters even though you don’t get given a whole backstory (which can be pretty boring sometimes), meaning that you’re still heartbroken when they die.
The way this film opened, I was genuinely expecting to get so much more from it, and OK it delivered with the death scenes. So much so, that I wouldn’t be surprised if certain parts had to be cut down for cinema release or to lower its rating. That isn’t me complaining about the gore, honestly it’s the best thing about this film. Unfortunately, a lot of the film seems to drag on and part of me feels that we see the dogs a little too soon. There was nothing stopping them relying on sound for a little longer, or even all the attacks to wait until nightfall – making the dogs seem like shadows in the night. However, like Black Water the Aussies smashed it out of the park once again with the isolation – so for that I say winner, winner, dog’s dinner. The downside though, yes it’s a small cast (which is great don’t get me wrong) but I have an issue with the fact that all the lead characters survive. For me, a great horror is where you know that no one is safe.
This is possibly the cleverest film on the list. I’m not going to explain exactly what I mean because it will ruin it for anyone who decides to watch it after reading this but I will tell you it took me half an hour to realise what was going on. It’s like piecing together a rather dark puzzle. I don’t want to give too much away but it’s like watching I Spit on Your Grave but with the subtle horror genius of Midsommar. What this film does well is that its uses imagery to convey what’s happened without the actual scene being shown. I’ll be honest, I don’t think it should have ended the way it did. Instead, they could have just ended it The Hills Have Eyes style (that’s the original – just feel like I got to point that out).
To be honest, I can’t say whether this film scared me or not. The one thing I will say is that the kid REALLY got on my nerves! I think the Aussies really seemed to take a leaf out of the Japanese horror manual for this film and definitely learnt from the mistakes the Americans made with Insidious. The setting is so dark, that it makes it easier to hide the image of the Babadook meaning they just rely on sound for the majority of the film until it is finally let in. You watch it and tell me that ‘Ba-ba-Dook Dook Dook’ doesn’t send chills through you.
Found footage films like Cloverfield and Rec are absolutely great but this film takes it one step further. It turned it into what feels like a real life documentary – so much so that I looked up if it was based on a true story at all (FYI – no evidence to say that it is or isn’t, just people thinking the makers of the film have been very clever). I wouldn’t say you’ll be screaming with fear but there are definitely a few scenes that will make you jump out of your skin. Also, be prepared to see stuff in the dark that possibly isn’t even there because that definitely happened to me.