Visitors (2003)

One from the to watch pile…

Visitors (2003)

Film: I love a sunburnt cinema, films of sweeping plains, of rugged outback killers, of tough, arse-kicking dames… yeah, I love Australian films. Not the artsy, fartsy ones that proper critics love, but instead the dumb, violent, Ozploitative stuff made famous recently by Mark Hartley’s awesome doco ‘Not Quite Hollywood’.

I’m never sure that Ozploitation quite left us completely and this film, 2003’s Visitors might be a good example of that. Not only does it tell a story of an attractive woman left to protect herself, it’s also written by Everett De Roche, writer of Razorback and Harlequin, but it’s also directed by Richard Franklin, who gave us Road Games and Patrick.

Visitors tells of Georgia Perry (Radha Mitchell), am around-the-world yachtswoman whose efforts have come to a shuddering halt due to a lack of wind, and she is left in the middle of the ocean, static, surrounded by a huge unforgiving fog.

Being stuck for so long, though, starts to effect her mind and she starts to have bizarre flights of fancy involving strange tattooed men, pirates and dreams of her mother, father and aunts, but are they real? Is it just her mental state screwing with her, or are there more ominous forces at work?

Parts of the background of the story is revealed in a piecemeal, flashback method.. you know, like Pulp Fiction… and the more we see, the more is seems that our heroine’s life may have been unravelling before she even stepped on the deck. It’s an interesting way to tell such a straightforward story when you consider the only real family secret was how her father ended up in a wheelchair.

This is pretty much Radha Mitchell’s Show, and she does it well. She’s likeable and her creeping madness manifests in many ways, some creepy, and some just hilariously bizarre. The addition of Suzanna York to the cast as her oppressive, manipulative mother is fantastic, as are the appearances of Tottie Goldsmith, Dominic Purcell and Ray Barrett.

The problem with this film is though it’s just not very engaging. Whilst Mitchell’s character is a nice enough person who is surrounded by some generic, family tragedies, her plight on the boat would have been enough, but adding the ‘ghosts’ who keep visiting make it difficult to be interested in. To make matters worse, when the stupid reason why they are visiting is revealed, and it’s not just stupid, it’s ridiculous, you’ll be left in a great big pile of ‘what the..?’

I wanted to like this as I like the actors and the writer and director, but it’s just not very good. The addition of SyFy channel quality cgi doesn’t help it too much either.

Score: **

Format: This film was reviewed with the Umbrella Entertainment release DVD and was presented in a clear 2.35:1 image with a matching 5.1 Audio track.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: There is a couple of extras on this disc, including text biographies of the cast and crew (though not Everett De Roche, which seemed out of place), a terrible, out of scale photo gallery (an absolutely worthless addition), the trailer for this film and trailers for Alexandra’s Project, The Rage in Placid Lake, Erskineville Kings and Japanese Story.

Score: **


The Darkness (2015) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The Darkness (2016)

Film: I like bacon on everything: burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, and even films. In general I can say I like films that have Kevin Bacon in them as he has quite a presence.

I’m not quite sure if he’s a fine actor, but sometimes he just nails parts that are handed to him, and I’ll site Flatliners, Cop Car and Death Sentence amongst those that really made me sit up and take notice… and I reckon I’ll include The Darkness in one where a fairly generic story is raised by Bacon’s performance, and for that matter so-stars Radha Mitchell, David Mazouz and Lucy Fry.

Lucy Fry is also known for her appearance in the TV series of Wolf Creek, which was created by Greg McClean, as is this film, which he directed and co-wrote with the writers of the fantastic Australian film Acolytes, Shayne Armstrong and Shane Krause.

The Taylor family, father Peter (Bacon), mother Bronny (Mitchell), and children Stephanie (Fry) and Michael (Mazouz) have been on a camping trip with some friends, and young autistic Michael has discovered some pebbles with runes on them inside a cave where a strange Native American village once stood.

Michael’s communication issues cause him to not tell the rest of the family about his stones, and he becomes, all of the sudden, very possessive of the backback he keeps them in.

The family starts having problems, and weird things start happening around the house as whatever it is that Michael has brought into the house starts to eat into their fear and escalate their failings. Michael in particular starts acting strange, and then the weird occurrences start taking place… and then all hell breaks loose.

Peter’s boss, Simon (Paul Reiser) suggests they get in touch with a psychic his wife knows to see if they can alleviate the situation… but will they provoke it instead?

For me this was a well acted, well cast, well directed film but the story suffers from being so generic, as far as the ‘haunting’ aspect goes. The familial issues are right out of a decent drama film and are probably the best part of the script especial with the delicate subjects of autism, bulimia, alcoholism and adultery, but all the ghost story stuff reads like a megamix, best-of, greatest hits album of ghost movies, and the lack of originality makes the story suffer, which is a shame as all the other, previously mentioned stuff is quite good.

With a better, more original story this had the potential of being some great, rather than something sub-average. Shame.

Score: **1/2

Format: The reviewed copy of this film was an Australian region 2, 4 and 5 DVD which has a flawless 2.40:1 image and a matching Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The film runs for approximately 88 minutes.

Score: ****

Extras: There is an alternate ending which runs for about 9 minutes and honestly is the far better, ‘shocking’ ending. Also we have 9 deleted scenes which whilst don’t move the story forward, do flesh out the characters and their various issues.

Score: **

WISIA: I’m not really a ghost story type so I can’t really see myself watching it again.