Distributed by Cinedigm
Is there a trickier subgenre to successfully tackle than the horror-comedy? Some of my very favorite films are of the screams ‘n yucks variety – but for every Young Frankenstein, Shaun of the Dead, or Tucker and Dale Versus Evil, there are innumerable Scary Movie 5s or Piranha 3DDs that pollute the shelves. Because of this, one can’t help but regard any new entry in this dodgy field with a healthy amount of skepticism.
Enter 100 Bloody Acres, a new Aussie film that puts a novel spin on the Texas Chain Saw mold by introducing us to Reg Morgan (Herriman), a well-meaning kinda-rube who opens the film by loading up a recently deceased auto accident victim into the back of his large panel truck. Y’see, Reg and his brother Lindsay (Sampson), owners of an organic fertilizer business, have struck upon a novel idea – they mulch up dead human bodies and sell the product as a sort of super-fertilizer. When concertgoers Sophie (McGahan), her unwittingly cuckholded boyfriend James (Ackland), and her secret lover Wesley (Kristian) have a breakdown on the side of a lonely country road, Reg gives them a lift – eventually taking a shine to Sophie and deciding to deliver the trio to his brother for “processing” (the thought be that living bodies will likely yield even better results than corpses). What follows is a gory, funny, and surprisingly character-focused comedy that has more twists and turns that you would expect from this sort of tale (try as you might, I doubt if you’ll be able to accurately guess each character’s fate).
By forcing us to sympathize with the dim-witted but strangely likable Reg, and by filling the film with several complex relationships, 100 Bloody Acres becomes something more than a simple comedic riff on redneck horror. Viewers might very well feel their loyalties shift back and forth, from victim to villain, which creates a giddy uneasiness throughout even for all the comedy. By the time the end credits have rolled, one realizes they actually care about a couple of the more dubious characters (all while shaking away the movie’s unnerving blend of horror and humor).
Aiding directors Cameron and Colin Cairnes (who also scripted) balance the tonal trickiness of this film is their impressive roster of thesps. There isn’t a weak link in the cast here, as everyone manages to nail the drama, horror, and absurdity inherent in their situations. Particular standouts are Herriman, the lovely and quite funny McGahan, and Sampson, who most horror fans will recognize as Tucker from the Insidious films. Wolf Creek baddie John Jarratt even puts in a brief appearance, managing to amuse with even the few short minutes he’s given to make an impression.
The Cairnes brothers, in addition to nailing their film’s strange tone and pulling great performances from their actors, manage to deliver a good looking film with the help of John Brawley’s intermittently slick and gritty photography. Even the film’s musical score perfectly supports the creepy/funny vibe that runs throughout the film.
While the story may be somewhat slight, 100 Bloody Acres still succeeds as great entertainment, due to its potent blend of gore and guffaws, and its cast of interesting, three-dimensional characters. While it may not be the classic in the vein of those films mentioned at the top of this review, it’s still absolutely worth of look for those in need of both a good laugh and scream.
100 Bloody Acres is currently available via Xbox/Zune, Playstation, Amazon Instant, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, and will be released to Blu-ray/DVD on October 22nd by Music Box Films.
3 1/2 out of 5
3 out of 5