Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Storm Warning

Some time after the torture porn wave has passed, along comes the Australian film Storm Warning to join in. The movie was directed by Jamie Blanks, whose previous credits include Urban Legend and Valentine. Judging from these three, his career arc is a ski slope.

A couple (Nadia Fares, Robert Taylor) go out for a day’s fishing in a small boat, even though the man doesn’t seem to know anything about fishing and the woman doesn’t seem to want to. They get lost, and end up on French Island, an isolated scrap of land that looks like the Antipodean version of rural Mississippi. There they stumble upon a house filled with the Aussie equivalent of rednecks, who are running a marijuana farming operation. There’s a father and two sons, all some sort of half-wit. After some sparring, the rednecks inform them they know too much, and they will be subjected to sexual abuse and then killed (although fortunately for the couple, they take their time getting to the sexual assault). It’s up to the intrepid couple to figure out how to escape these madmen.

The movie has a number of problems; I’ll just touch on the highlights. First of all, you want the viewer to have some sympathy for the victims in something like this, and, other than the basic wish not to see anyone mistreated, you don’t. The couple is whiny, incompetent, and unlikeable. As an example, if you don’t want the scary rednecks to know you know about their illegal crops, it’s not a good idea to have a loud argument about the information where they can hear you. Also, for most of the movie, the couple is left by themselves, untied, in a barn. For those of you city folk out there, barns are filled with things that can be used as edged weapons or clubs. This never crosses the couples’ minds. When the couple briefly escapes, they run into the night, right down the middle of the only road. A helpful hint: If you are trying to elude someone at night, go into the woods, find a place to hide, and stay still. You’ll be hard to find.

All this non-action slowly drags along. For torture fans (you know who you are) the couple is subjected to mostly verbal abuse, until the husband’s leg is broken. Not exactly Hostel-level deviltry. The couple remains passive until the point in the script where the writer and director must have said, “It’s time to turn the table.” At that point the woman becomes Tony Stark, building Rube Goldberg type traps, and constructing an anti-rape Penis Flytrap, which is horrific, but most have been almost as uncomfortable for the lady as the rapist. This happens even though there is no reason for her to have these abilities (a dropped subplot would have shown her as an artist working with metal) and there’s no need for the elaborate gadgets. The rednecks come to the barn one at a time, just wait behind the door with a club. But I suppose the gruesome deaths of the bozos were the reasons for the movie.

Although it is fairly gory, the most disturbing thing to me was the killing of a baby wallaby. If googling hadn’t revealed it to be animatronic, this review would be much harsher. Still, I’d give this one a pass.

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