Studio: Doppelganger Releasing
Director: Colin and Cameron Cairnes
Writer: Colin and Cameron Cairnes
Producer: Julie Ryan, Kate Croser
Stars: Damon Herriman, Angus Sampson, Anna McGahan, Oliver Ackland, Jamie Kristian, John Jarratt
The Morgan Brothers fertilizer business booms after the duo discovers that dead bodies make the ideal secret ingredient.
Some country folk like to scrape up tire-treaded roadkill and use the skins to make cheap furs and feed the meat to their overall clad families. Or at least that is the impression that Cletus the slack-jawed yokel gives on “The Simpsons” anyway. On the other side of the globe in Australia, the Morgan Brothers peel people off the pavement and grind the corpses into a secret ingredient for their unique blood and bone fertilizer. They are not serial killers mind you. They are just a grave robbing variety of farmer content to scoop up the remains of car crash victims and hope that no one notices. Until Reg Morgan makes the mistake of offering a lift to three stranded motorists on their way to a John Butler concert. Once the unsuspecting trio finds out what the Morgan boys are really doing to make their potassium-rich product, Reg and his brother Lindsay are stuck in a pickle with no easy way out.
“100 Bloody Acres” is more horrific comedy than comedic horror. Believe it or not, there is a difference between the two. “Comedic horror” is somewhere along the line towards “Re-Animator,” where sly flourishes of black comedy accent what could otherwise only be classified as straight horror. “100 Bloody Acres” is closer in step to a film like “Shaun of the Dead,” where the comedy comes from the ever-increasing absurdity of a situation spiraling uncontrollably further into unbelievable lunacy. The premise is approached in such a way that the script has to be treated as a comedy first, instead of the other way around.
The Morgan Brothers orchard is the type of place that exists between identifiable reality and demented cinematic fantasy. To explain it another way, it is the kind of environment where watching a torso somewhat accidentally being ground into mulch is a source of laughter instead of a cause for terror. In the instances where “100 Bloody Acres” uses gore for laughs, it usually comes in the form of purposefully excessive blood sprays drenching just about every character in copious amounts of crimson.
The film’s big strength is its quality cast. Damon Herriman is on the money as Reg, the likeable dimwit half of the Morgan Brothers. Fans of the TV series “Justified” will remember him from a somewhat similar, albeit more trigger happy, role as dimwit redneck Dewey Crowe. Angus Sampson, familiar to genre moviegoers as the tall dark partner of Leigh Whannell’s paranormal investigator in the “Insidious” films, makes good use of his lumbering frame and thick beard as the intimidating brother Lindsay.
While the brothers balance inklings of homicide with fraternal affection, Anna McGahan mixes a seductive blend of charming cutie and two-timing temptress as Sophie. Jamie Kristian’s Wesley spends the majority of the 90 minutes enjoying an acid trip, which affords his character plenty of opportunities for inappropriate observations, commentary, and actions as things progress from bad to worse. Oliver Ackland has the least impact as James, but that is due to the characterization and not his performance. By design, James has the thankless destiny of existing to be a sad sack dullard when he is not rendered speechless because of a duct tape gag.
With a different cast, “100 Bloody Acres” would have been a different, and inferior, movie. Sure, that broad statement applies to every film. But here, the ensemble is quirky enough and has the right mixture of personalities to make the material fresher than it has any right to be. Little in the script is unfamiliar territory for horror or for comedy. Everyone has seen the numbskull bullied by a domineering partner and forced to break from his shell. The hostage honey that turns on the sex appeal so she can turn the tables on her captor is also nothing new. Neither are scenes of runaway body parts or apprehensive lawmen creeping towards suspicious car trunks.
Most of the gags have been seen many times over, which is where points are docked for originality. Sometimes, the humor is not regular enough to distract from the groans that ride along with the predictable plot turns and tired story devices. Luckily for “100 Bloody Acres,” its heart is in the right place as a goofy splatterfest and the cast is having enough fun with the setup that it takes an effort to resist enjoying it right along with them.
NOTE: There is a post-credits scene.
Review Score: 65