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July 17, 2013

100 Bloody Acres

by Franz Patrick

100 Bloody Acres (2012)
★★ / ★★★★

Reg (Damon Herriman) is on his way to deliver sacks of fertilizer to a client, but along the road is a fellow trucker whose vehicle has crashed onto a tree. Reg pulls over to check on the unconscious man. He appears to be dead. But instead of calling for help, he carries the body into the truck. Brothers Reg and Lindsay (Angus Sampson) run an organic fertilizer business in which their main ingredient happens to be relatively fresh human remains.

Approximately half of “100 Bloody Acres,” written and directed by Cameron Cairnes and Colin Cairnes, is funny, silly, and macabre, very reminiscent of Kevin Connor’s wonderfully deranged “Motel Hell,” about siblings who kidnap travelers, bury the bodies in their garden, and serve them as specialty meat. Eventually, however, when motivations are clear and all cards are on the table, the picture decomposes into very light humor. During its last convulsions, it is just another toothless, predictable horror film in which two characters duel around dangerous machines for survival. I cared about neither of them.

Some of the scenes take a roundabout way to generate tension. Sophie (Anna McGahan), James (Oliver Ackland), and Wesley (Jamie Kristian), on their way to a music festival, are captured and confined in a shed. When the brothers leave to go on about their business for a few minutes and a phone or some other object is nearby, instead of making an attempt to untie themselves, troubles in James and Sophie’s relationship are discussed. Risk-taking scenes as such do not come off stupid or trying too hard. Enough time is provided for the characters to show that they can be smart when necessary and yet retain their goofy side.

The chemistry between the brothers work most of the time. The running joke is that they are completely opposites but they share the same bloodline. Lindsay has a towering appearance and commanding a very serious personality. He is absolutely the scarier one. Reg, on the other hand, is rather sweet but he is somewhat dimwitted. Over time, when the screenplay forces a change in what they have, I could not buy into it.

Even for a horror-comedy, it lacks one big scare that would have allowed it to stand out of the pack. As for successful movies within the sub-genre, like Edgar Wright’s “Shaun of the Dead” and Peter Jackson’s “Dead Alive,” it is all about exaggeration. With the former, it is the strength that lies in the number of zombies in one area. With the latter, the amount of blood shown on screen can easily fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Here, there is not enough exaggeration to circumvent or hide its lack of genuine scares.

“100 Bloody Acres” is amusing but it does wear out its welcome. It feels like it has run out of creative marrow just a bit past its halfway point and the rest, with the exception of two or there short scenes, is a passive march toward the finish line.


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