Aussie horror flicks have been more miss than hit of late. For every inventive and creatively shot film like zombie thriller Wyrmwood (2014), there are a dozen sub-standard slashers in the mould of Boar (2017) or Charlie’s Farm (2014). The good news is the lastest local production The Furies is a gory, heart-pumping roller-coaster ride that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat from the opening scream.
Written and directed by Tony D’Aquino (taking the helm of his first feature-length film), The Furies follows a simple premise; a bunch of women have been kidnapped and dumped in the outback where homicidal masked men hunt them. It’s not an original starting point, but D’Aquino has enough tricks up his sleeve to add something new to the plot and keep fans invested during the film’s hour-and-twenty runtime.
The Furies begins with good friends Kayla (Airlie Dodds) and Maddie (Ebony Vagulans) being abducted after getting into an argument on the street. Kayla awakens disorientated in a black box with little memory of how she got there. Finding herself in the middle of the bush alone and with no sign of Maddie, Kayla soon runs into a couple of other women before being confronted by a masked killer wielding an axe. This is when things start to pick up.
From here on out it’s a cat-and-mouse game as the freaky masked killers (one appears to be wearing human skin over his clothing while another wears an owl mask) stalk the girls through the Aussie bush. One of D’Aquino’s unique ideas that gives the film a fresh feel is each woman, known as the ‘beauties’, being paired with a killer, known as the ‘beasts’. This causes the beasts to fight amongst each other to protect their beauty as if they fail, they are also killed spectacularly with their heads exploding into a bloody mess. There’s also a voyeuristic game show element to the proceedings, but to say anymore will give away too much of the plot.
Dodds does a great job as heroine Kayla, who also suffers from epilepsy. This adds another layer of drama to The Furies, as you’re never quite sure when she’ll have a seizure or if anyone will be around to help her when she does. Dodds is surrounded by a great supporting cast that includes Sheena (Taylor Ferguson), Alice (Kaitlyn Boye) and Sally (Harriet Davies), who all provide adequate fodder for the killers, but it’s Linda Ngo as the sheltered Rose whose performance is a career-making turn.
That might sound strange to say for someone starring in a horror, but Ngo instils Rose with an innocence underlined by a psychological menace. You’re never quite sure whose side she’s on or what she is capable of doing, despite seemingly reforming to a childlike state. The relationship between Rose and Kayla is also one of the strongest dynamics in the film.
Along with great performances, the kills are blood splattering and inventive, with the axe through the head death sure to have gore fans salivating. Scarecrow Studios have done tremendous special effects work while the cinematography makes great use of the natural scrubland, making The Furies distinctly Australian.
The Furies might not reinvent the horror wheel but it does offer enough for the genre’s rabid fans to enjoy and is the best local slasher released in years.
Named Best Australian feature at Fangoria x Monster Fest 2019.