Brothers, Reg (Damon Herriman) and Lindsay (Angus Sampson) Morgan run 'Blood and Bone' fertiliser and their secret ingredient – dead car crash victims – is in short supply. When Reg comes across three young people stranded on a remote road, he sees a radical solution to their supply problems, and a way of finally gaining the respect of his big brother, Lindsay. But things don't quite go to plan when Reg becomes attracted to one of his captives, Sophie (Anna McGahan).
As if South Australia’s dusty backwoods weren’t terrifying enough, we now have the Cairnes Brothers’ 100 Bloody Acres to spoil the nation’s best wine country.
An exceedingly well-made work that both satirises and satisfies, though its gleeful gruesomeness won’t be to everyone’s taste.
A sly, sick comedy/horror genre dissection that will appeal to fans of Tucker and Dale vs Evil and Cabin Fever, this MIFF-funded oddity riffs on the 'crazed hillbilly’ sub-genre made famous by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, yet leaves its own mark thanks to savvy characters and its subversion of slasher movie tropes. The potential for mainstream crossover success is apparent; it’s an exceedingly well-made work that both satirises and satisfies, though its gleeful gruesomeness won’t be to everyone’s taste.
In a very funny pre-credit sequence, organic fertiliser manufacturer Reg Morgan (a terrific Damon Herriman) comes across a seemingly-deceased car crash victim, whom he then nervously loads into his delivery truck. Next, he stumbles across a gaggle of friends headed for a local music festival: hottie Sophie (recent Heath Ledger scholarship recipient, Anna McGahan), her boyfriend James (Oliver Ackland) and douchie UK-tourist Wes (Jamie Kristian). Reg agrees to give them a lift, though his intentions are sinister: they will become fodder for his family-run compost business, overseen by his brutal and twisted brother Lindsay (Angus Sampson).
What unfolds is a deliciously convoluted, though never confusing, criss-crossing of narrative strands and character motivations. James is going to ask Sophie to marry him; Sophie is tormented by her night of infidelity with Wes; Reg has the hots for Sophie; James is left hanging over an industrial meat grinder. All the while, the ruthless Lindsay is most concerned about keeping the blood-and-bone small business afloat.
Detractors may point to 100 Bloody Acres being just another smart-arse slandering of country folk, and there might be something to that. Australian cinema has a long cinematic history of 'hoity’ city-folk being rattled by crass outback types (see: Wake in Fright, Wolf Creek); although his sweetness is always apparent, Herriman’s Reg is a clueless, if romantic dim-bulb. (Imagine David Argue’s cult villain 'Dicko’ from Razorback crossed with Hugh Grant.) But the Cairnes Brothers aren’t going after simple country folk specifically; everybody in their film (barring McGahan’s engagingly real heroine) is comically but recognisably stupid. Best of the bunch is Kristian’s Wes, whose stumbling, acid-fuelled odyssey through a closed-down fairytale theme park is a hoot.
The small details of the Brothers’ narrative are what prove especially winning. Yappy dogs stealing away severed hands; a distasteful revelation regarding Lindsay and his Aunt Nancy (a wonderful Chrissie Page); an ongoing and increasingly hilarious gag about a misfiring radio ad; and a perfectly-pitched cameo from Wolf Creek legend John Jarratt all combine to ensure 100 Bloody Acres achieves far more than you would expect.