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  • 18
  • Horror
  • 2007
  • 82 mins

Storm Warning

Storm Warning

Synopsis

Australian director Jamie Blanks goes back to source for this gory redneck revenge shocker, scripted by the writer of Razorback, Everett De Roche

About

These days, Australian cinemagoers have the likes of Greg McLean (Wolf Creek, Rogue), the Spierig Brothers (Undead, Daybreakers) and Andrew Traucki and David Nerlich (Black Water) to scare them out of their comfort zones - but several decades back, the name most strongly associated with Antipodean horror belonged not to any director, but rather to a screenwriter.

Patrick, Roadgames, Razorback, not to mention what may be Australia's greatest ever nature's revenge film, Long Weekend, all came from the pen of Everett De Roche, who realised ahead of his time that the bushlands and desertscapes down under are the perfect staging ground for the horrifying clash of civilisation and savagery.

It should come as little surprise that these preoccupations are shared by Storm Warning, the latest film to be based on one of De Roche's screenplays; perhaps more surprising is how fresh and contemporary the film seems, despite its having been written some 30 years ago.

Storm Warning is confirmation, if confirmation is needed, that modern horror has entered a phase of backward-looking nostalgia, with seemingly every new chiller sending a bloody valentine to the mean-spirited excesses of the 1970s and 1980s. Director Jamie Blanks' career is emblematic of this process: for while he has previously made the blandly slick studio horrors Urban Legend and Valentine, with Storm Warning he has not only returned to his country of origin, but also gone right back to the independent, low-budget roots of the genre he so loves. In so doing, he has been able to import the sort of unapologetically strong material that the studio system tends to avoid. No one would accuse Storm Warning of tepidly pandering to the PG-13 market. This is horror for only the sternest of stomachs.

"I feel like Goldilocks." So says French artist Pia (Farès) to her older, barrister boyfriend Rob (Taylor) as they break into an isolated farmhouse for shelter after a storm has interrupted their weekend boat trip - and sure enough, this bourgeois city couple is about to fall into the clutches of three ferocious bears from the "boonies".

It is clear from the start that Jimmy (Lyons) and Brett (Wilkinson) are priapic, misogynistic racists with criminal secrets and volatile tempers, and they are none too happy to find intruders in their home (although they are rather pleased to get their hands on a "female human".) But if these two brothers are terrifying, they are themselves terrified of their Poppy (Brumpton), soon to wake from his drunken stupor. Pia and Rob are definitely in big trouble - but as Pia's dad once told her, "To catch a mad dog, you must think like a mad dog - only madder." The time has come to fight - with a vengeance - and Pia is going to use her newfound fishing skills and sexual allure to strike back at her redneck tormentors where it really hurts.

There is little new to be found in Storm Warning for anyone reared on a diet of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Last House On The Left, Deliverance and I Spit On Your Grave, but Blanks shifts gears from menacing tension to outrageous violence with such speed and deftness that you can only sit back and admire his craft - if, that is, you are not left struggling to recover your jaw from where it has landed on the floor. And the game is raised by the players, from veterans Taylor and Brumpton to newcomer Lyons, who offer a chilling intensity of performance that is rare in so tawdry a subgenre.

So if you want to see Australian masculinity gone insanely awry, and a feminist backlash that unfolds in an escalating series of gory set-pieces, Storm Warning delivers on every front.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: David Lyons, John Brumpton, Jonathan Oldham, Robert Taylor, Mathew Wilkinson, Nadia Farès
  • Director: Jamie Blanks
  • Screen Writer: Everett De Roche
  • Producer: Gary Hamilton, Pete Ford
  • Photographer: Karl Von Moller
  • Composer: Jamie Blanks

In a nutshell

This modern fairytale of three very bad men and a female avenger represents survival horror cheap and nasty enough to get genre fans drooling - but it is also consummately crafted, heralding the welcome return of Australia's finest exploitation writer Everett De Roche.

by Anton Bitel

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