Australia has brought the world some terrific films that have wide audience appeal such as “Mad Max”, “Muriel’s Wedding” and “Gallipoli”. They can do grittiness and black humor with the best of them. Music Box brings the Australian film “100 Bloody Acres”, a black comedy helmed by brothers Cameron and Colin Cairnes, to a wider audience on Blu-ray after a rather sparse life at the cinemas. Several have cast this as being the best independently funded splatter comedy since “Shaun of the Dead”.
The Morgan Borthers, Reg (Damon Herriman) and Lindsay (Angus Sampson) are two farmers who have secretly been using roadkill for their local prize-winning pumpkins and vegetables due to their chemically high potassium rates. When the story begins, they are already in the process of using human corpses for their ingredients, and on top of that, have just graduated to only using freshly dead human bodies. Reg is driving along in his delivery van when he comes across a very recent accident where no one has driven by and seen it yet, a one car collision with a tree. Without much contemplation, he takes the corpse of the driver and quickly puts him in the back of his van. On the way to his delivery, which is on the way back to his farm, he comes across three stranded twenty-somethings on the way to a concert. They are a flirty Sophie (Anna McGahan ), her boyfriend James (Oliver Ackland) and his hyper, druggy friend Wesley (Jamie Kristian). Reg reluctantly stops for then and after quickly hiding the corpse under some bags of fertilizer, the two males ride in back while Sophie rides up in front with Reg. During the trip James and Wesley discover the body (right after Wes drops acid) and they begin to panic. Meanwhile, up in the cab of the truck Reg and Sophie are having a smiley, flirtatious time talking about radio commercial jingles, country music and living in the country. On a side note, Reg has been listening to this particular station all day so he can hear his new jingle his brother and him put together. The truck ends up back at the Morgan brother’s farm where Reg and his brother Lindsay tie everyone up in hope to use the fresh corpses, which are full of rich potassium to feed their crops.
“100 Bloody Acres” has been most compared to another low budget, black comedy “Shaun of the Dead”. While not as clever or entertaining, I can still see the similarities. They are both nicely made low budgets features that have a slick sheen of professionalism. The script for “100 Bloody Acres” is intelligent and focused with many moments of truthful character dialogue. There is no hamming up their Aussie accents for international audiences. There is a fantastic authenticity to their nomenclature and mannerisms. One of the better moments deals with a character just finding out his girlfriend has cheated on him and he wants to know every detail, and any guy that has ever been cheated on always has the same exact thoughts going on through their mind. He wants every detail because, as he puts it, there is a sliding scale of infidelity versus an inverse scale of forgiveness.
The film also spends time building up characters and relationships to add some nice depth to the proceedings. Opening shots during the credits are of road side stands and local stores setting the scene, this is part of the country which thrives on selling roadside trinkets, food, goods and services. There are less than a handful of indirect action cuts that may suggest it’s not exactly real time but it’s pretty darn close with the story unfolding within a 2-3 hour time frame. The action and plot never deviate from the events happening in front of us. Also, the film has a wonderful soundtrack full of Australian country music and 70’s romantic music.
Several things do keep it from being a truly great experience. The film’s final act takes a somewhat restrained approach when it should have been an all-out blood fest for an exclamation point. There were many bloody moments throughout leading up to the end as well as a nicely painted villain and the payoff isn’t as satisfying as it could be. It also suffers from a little of they may not have known how to end it. The wrap up is quick and rather open ended. Make sure to watch the end credits all the way through as there is a bonus bit of darkness at the at the end.
Music Box’s 1080-P 2.35:1 image is surprisingly near faultless considering the budget. Although full of various colors, none of them pop out from the picture, however I would call it an intended look and not the fault of the transfer. Detail is not demo worthy but is a good representation of how the film should look.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is not the most dynamic of soundtracks but is full of realism with cars and trucks appropriately moving between speakers. Dialogue is clear as can be with no issues. Splatter effects hit every speaker nicely. There is a nice presence of bass, especially when machines are turned on and in Lindsay’s growly voice.
There is quite a nice package of supplement to be had here. Although none are particulry long, fans will enjoy what is present.
Mood Reel: An interesting black and white music “piece” for lack of better work
Behind 100 Bloody Acres: Has various interviews with the cast and crew.
Gag Reel: Is you typical reel which is probably more interesting to those involved than anyone else. Still humorous though
Recording the Radio Ad: An inside look at the actors who played Reg and Lindsay recording the jingle
Morgan’s Organic Radio Ads: Audio only of the actual ad played on the radio
Bloody SFX: Is a quick looks at the effects used in the film
Grinding the Roadie: Is nothing more than a quick snippet of the goriest scene in the movie
Storyboard Gallery: Is an interactive view of various storyboard art.
Celestial Avenue: A Cairnes brothers short film.
Morgan’s Organic TV Commercials: This is nice bit of retro fun, a handful of low budget commercials done by Reg and Lindsay. This is probably one of my top five extras I’ve ever seen.
Col and Cam Do the Shed Scene: A small scene with the directors showing off their acting chops
Reg the Dog’s Audition: This is basically the dog with a prosthetic hand it’s it mouth.
“100 Bloody Acres” just about earns its comparison to “Shaun of the Dead” where it is able to overcome budget constraints to successfully bring the story to life in a darkly comedic and professional manner. Almost none of the low budget shows onscreen which is impressive. It does slightly lose its way towards the end however it does not tarnish the experience. Video and audio are great and there is a nice supply of extras. Recommended as a rental for those who are unsure of what they are in for.