Editor’s Note: Our review of 100 Bloody Acres originally ran during this year’s inaugural Stanley Film Fest, but we’re running it again now as the movie hits VOD and limited theatrical release starting June 28, 2013.
It’s been said before (by me) that the horror/comedy hybrid is one of the toughest genre mash-ups to get right. More often than not one of the two suffers as the filmmakers focus on one to the detriment of the other. It’s not that the two need to be equally represented, but they need to be equally sincere.
A recent and rare example of one that succeeds is the new Australian film, 100 Bloody Acres. It’s a very funny comedy through and through, but it never shies away from the red stuff.
When the going gets tough the tough get grinding, and in the Morgan Brothers’ case what they’re grinding are human bodies. They’re not murderers per se as they rely almost exclusively on accident victims, but what else are small business owners to do when they discover that humans are the secret ingredient that makes their fertilizer more popular than ever? When Reg (Damon Herriman) passes three twenty-somethings on a back road and offers to give them a lift the trio learn the lengths he and his brother Lindsay (Angus Sampson) will go to secure the necessary ingredients to satisfy their customers.
James (Oliver Ackland), his girlfriend Sophie (Anna McGahan) and their friend Wesley (Jamie Kristian) are just trying to get to a big concert, but while James struggles to work up the nerve to ask Sophie to marry him she’s off canoodling with Wesley. Infidelity is far from their biggest problem now though as Lindsay can only see the dollar signs in the grue-filled buckets attached to the grinder.
Then Reg takes a liking to Sophie, and things get even more complicated.
Writers/directors/probably brothers Cameron and Colin Cairnes deliver an incredibly fun and bloody romp for their feature debut that manages to shake up character conventions in regard to the protagonist/antagonist distinctions. As familiar as the setup feels it’s actually Reg and Lindsay who become the most interesting characters here as the trio of potential victims drown in their own bickering.
All five of the leads manage some laughs thanks to their lively performances and the wonderfully sharp script. Herriman shines the brightest and manages to make his reluctant killer more empathetic than expected. His loyalties shift from his brother to his own heart, and his hemming and hawing along the way offers up some priceless comedy. Sampson meanwhile never cracks a smile but incites them on a regular basis thanks to his gruff but well-timed delivery.
As funny as it is there isn’t much meat to the film. To clarify, there’s plenty of meat hanging on hooks and chains, but the only character with anything resembling real depth is Reg. The others are closer to stereotypes, but that said, they’re stereotypes that shift a bit beneath their labels and are never less than entertaining.
100 Bloody Acres is extremely funny comedy for viewers who can handle bloodshed, death and yappy little dogs being kicked across the room. (No dogs were harmed in the making of this film.) Everyone does fine work here, and Herriman in particular will make you happy to see a character actor given the chance to take lead.
The Upside: Very funny; fresh take on the characters; Damon Herriman makes the most of his first lead role; catchy jingle
The Downside: Ultimately lightweight; may leave some viewers without a character to tie their allegiance to; jingle may be too catchy
On the Side: Angus Sampson (pictured above on the left), who also starred in Insidious as one of the paranormal investigators alongside Leigh Whannell, was named one of the 27 Sexiest People in 2007 by Who Weekly Magazine.