Tuesday, July 19, 2011

invitation to love.

Here's a quick write up of a couple of Australian movies I've stumbled across recently, both so entertaining that it's almost impossible for me to find any way of adding a 'laugh now' or 'shite in mah mooth' to the proceedings.

Hence the brevity of the reviews.


Lake Mungo (2009).
Dir. Joel Anderson.
Cast: Rosie Traynor, David Pledger, Martin Sharpe, Steve Jodrell and  Talia Zucker.

Alice kept secrets.She kept the fact that she kept secrets a secret.

First up Lake Mungo, a supposedly true-life (i.e. not at all) documentary chronicling the little known case of the Palmer family,  just your average mum, dad and two kids whose lives are altered forever when their broody (but still fairly bouncy) sixteen-year-old daughter Alice (Zucker, Erin Perry from Neighbours) drowns mysteriously (and very wetly) whilst picnicking with her family.

Alice Palmer: Water sports with me.

Not long after the poor girls funeral, bizarre things begin to occur at the Palmer residence; strange noises can be heard around the house at night, Alice's bedroom door keeps mysteriously opening and closing and a little man in a red suit is seen dancing backwards around the lounge.

OK, perhaps not the last one.

Adding to the sense of unease, shock to fuck (in a kinda hot way) mum June (Traynor) has started having nightmares and can only sleep if she breaks into someone else's house whilst Alice’s brother, Matthew (Sharpe star of the fantastic Scooter: Secret Agent series) has discovered that all his photo's and videos have his sisters ghost in them.


Luckily for us dad Russell (teevee stalwart Pledger) remains calm and bedecked in a Crocodile Dundee style checked shirt throughout.

"Luckily I managed to scramble my way to the bank..."

Fearing for her sanity and unable to face the ever increasing pile of dirty shirts left by her hubbie June contacts the noted radio host cum psychic Ray Kemeny (sometime satellite array dish Jodrell), a paranormal specialist with a smart line in chunky knitwear.

Just imagine how much shite that mooth could hold.

As is the investigation begins to unfold, the family realise that their happy, fun-loving daughter led a darkly disturbing double life with enough secrets dark enough to put her American cousin Laura to shame and that even the softly spoken Matthew might not be all that he seems.

Not as much as this one did obviously.

As the mounting evidence and unearthed secrets continue to grow, the Palmer family find themselves leaving the safety and relative normality of suburbia for the otherworldly landscape that is Lake Mungo, a dried-up lake bed that Alice had once visited alongside her classmates.

What awaits them there will shake the Palmer's to their very core and leave them changed forever.

Jade Goody: The return.

One third The Last Broadcast, one third Twin Peaks and a third The Stone Tape, Joel Anderson's feature debut is a confident slow burner, relying on strong writing, honest acting and a fair amount of viewer love for classic David Lynch rather than blood scares and cheap tricks.

Which makes a nice change around here occasionally.

There's not much I can say for fear of spoiling one of the few genuinely creepy films of the past ten years except for see it before the obligatory American remake arrives.

Sharing the same basic 'mockumentary' premise as well as the same poster designer by the looks of things comes The Tunnel.

Billed as 'the viral movie of the year' by someone better paid (and very probably better looking) than me.

The Tunnel (2010).
Dir: Carlo Ledesma.
Cast: Bel Deliá, Andy Rodoreda, Steve Davis and Luke Arnold.

In order to alleviate Sydney's water shortage problem, local government types have come up with a plan to utilize the vast amount of derelict railway tunnels below the city to build a giant water recycling facility even tho' this would upset all the poor homeless folk who allegedly live down there.

Uncaring wretches.

Suddenly, the project is shelved amid rumours of dozens of tramps (and a few hoodie wearing graffiti artists) disappearing down there, even though the official line is that no-one at all ever ventures down there.


She thinks she's sweaty now but just wait till the arse whacking starts.

Enter (if I must) the mighty chinned and extremely dirty pillowed investigative journalist Natasha Warner (Deliá) who, reckoning that there's a story to be told (and awards to be won), heads down into the tunnels to discover the truth.

Unable to get a permit and desperate to make her mark, Natasha and her team; fellow hack Peter (Rodoreda), hunky cameraman Steve (ex snooker champ Davis) and soundman 'Tangles' (Arnold) sneak into the maze like underground network, laughing and joking as they go.

Before too long tho' our intrepid gang discover that there is indeed something down there, something that may not even be human.

But the worst is still to come.

Trapped in the labyrinthine tunnels without a proper map (or even sensible shoes) and hunted like tiny things that get hunted by big nasty things Steve informs everyone that the battery packs on the lights are running dangerously low.

And no-one has set the video for The Paul Hogan Show.

Peter O'Brien: The pasty years.

Whilst The Tunnel wont win any awards for originality, it's producers just might thanks to the unique way the film was financed and marketed.

Part funded by encouraging people to buy a frame of the movie for $1 and then releasing the finished product for free on various torrent sites, viewers were encouraged to try before they committed to buy the extras laden physical DVD release.

Which you have to admit is fairly smart.

Especially for Australians.

But what really puts The Tunnel in a different league to the majority of found footage or your average low budget indie flicks is how slickly made it is, rather than go the normal found footage route (bad edits, jumps and all) The Tunnel is sold to the viewer as a fully completed documentary even down to the fantastically realised credits and the composition of the interviews.

Mix this with the clever use of outside video footage other than the crews camera (mainly from closed circuit television from various locations) and a dedicated, utterly believable cast (hats off to Davis especially) and you know you're onto something that's really special.

Noel Edmonds: Tunnel or funnel?

And whilst the set-up may be a wee bit more convoluted than the norm, it works well enough to get the characters involved in the fairly credible backstory and more importantly into the tunnels and into danger, building slowly on the tension whilst letting us get to know Natasha and her crew before cranking up the the atmosphere (and throwing in some pretty effective scares) for the films second half.

Yes the director is aware that we know who's going to die and what's going to happen in the end but it doesn't stop him from making the journey there such good, old fashioned scary fun and one of the best things to come out of Australia since Robin McLeavy's arse.

1 comment:

Terrance Higginbottom said...

For the life of me, I've no idea how you can waste time watching the wee films while Megan is still missing. Such selfish behaviour.

Good day sir!