Owning a small fertilizer business has been a real coup for brothers Reg Morgan (Damon Herriman) and Lindsay Morgan (Angus Sampson). Their fertilizer has outgrown the competition, and their radio ad has been quite the popular ditty. The hominal key to their success would make even Audrey II green with envy. After giving stranded concert goers Sophie (Anna McGahan), James (Oliver Ackland), and Wes (Jamie Kristian) a lift, Reg decides to hand them over to his brother Lindsay in order to feed their growing business.
100 Bloody Acres is Colin and Cameron Cairnes’ directorial debut. It’s a zippy mélange of Sling Blade and Saw with a Yojimbo reference or two thrown in for good measure. A modest attempt to blend comedy and horror, the peanut butter and chocolate of cinema, 100 Bloody Acres plays so close to the hilt that it’s hard to tell whether I was supposed to chuckle or vomit from one scene to the next.
The plot veers from the amusing hijinks of the brothers played with sweetness and menace played by Damon Herriman and Angus Sampson respectively, to the tortuous fate of the maudlin young victims that form a love triangle. The lines of dialogue veer uneasily between sharp (“We got some freshies!”) and stupid (“You ain’t country. You’re a city slut.”). Mixing disturbing torture scenes in with slapstick comedy was more off-putting than I would have liked. A telegraphed romance late in the film threw me even more off kilter. The whole enterprise reminded me of Oliver Stone’s quirky dark comedy U Turn.
As wobbly as the story and characters are, the South Australian setting is kind of fun. Cinematographer John Brawley (he lensed 2010’s David Hyde Pierce indie The Perfect Host) wisely uses steady shot compositions with almost no jittering camera movement to make the film look like a retro John Landis horror comedy of yore. While the scenarios veer into extremes that would make Billy Joel jealous, 100 Bloody Acres has a pacing and unpredictability that move things along. I’ve enjoyed horror comedies in the past (Gremlins and Bride of Chucky are personal favorites), but the natural performances here just feel wrong for the material. Campier performances or juicier violence would have made this an easier pill for me to swallow. Colin and Cameron Cairnes have a promising future ahead of them as long as they hone their craft and settle in on what kind of story they’re trying to tell.
100 BLOODY ACRES will also be made available across VOD platforms from On Demand cable providers, to digital on demand portals including iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Xbox and more.