Wednesday, 16 June 2010

DVD Review: Dying Breed

With the recent uproar in Australian horrors, the overwhelming feeling of sheer success is apparent. Greg McLean proving a pivotal point, bringing both Wolf Creek and Rogue - two horrors of which have greatly stood out within the countless array of mind-numbingly incoherent crap. The mind-set is almost perfect, staging some of the most brutally intense scenes which have the ability to consume the audience in a fit of absolute terror. Dying Breed, initially released in 2008, is the latest Aussie flick, but is it worth a mention amongst the superior?

Loosely based upon Alexander "The Pieman" Pearce, the Irish convict who became notorious for cannibalising his fellow escapees upon their flee through the West Coast of Tasmania, Dying Breed focuses on the fictional descendants of Pearce residing in a desolate camp, surrounded by miles of forest. A group, led by Nina, attempt to discover the supposedly extinct Tasmanian tiger, but inadvertently become embroiled in a plot far more sinister.

The story of two iconic legends interweaved is undoubtedly fascinating. A cannibalistic convict and an elusive, but highly dangerous, tiger provide the fore-ground for which the film is based. Opening with an intriguing written narration, the curse of the "based on true events" aspect of a horror film become painfully apparent, but never fully plays out. Writer/director Jody Dwyer goes all-out with the horror by incorporating the chilling story of Pearce, but sadly ditches the sub-plot of the tiger. Still, up until the last act, the film is somewhat solid.

Our female lead (Mirrah Foulkes) and her rag-tag group of nondescript characters (Saw writer/star Leigh Whannell, Wolf Creek star Nathan Phillips and Melanie Vallejo) play well both individually and together. Nina (Foulkes), lead by the evidence supplied by her sister (who was found dead in the lakes of the Tasmanian jungle), searches for her ticket for career-acknowledgment, but can't help unravel the mystery behind her sister's death. Once encompassed by the harsh, and rather atmospheric, terrain, the scenes become forceful. Remaining slow-paced, they're aided entirely by the ominous presence following them and the equally-as-enveloping score.

Transcending into pure madness, the death toll slowly, but surely, rises, with clear imprints of horrors such as Cannibal Holocaust and The Hills Have Eyes. Intensity builds up with certain scenes, one involving an underground passageway filled with bear traps, which winds a tight grip. Sadly, said grip is loosened a substantial amount during the third act, down-spiraling into something which appears disastrously rushed. A series of cut scenes and we have our finale, a possible deleted scene which merely seems stapled on to the upsettingly below-average climax. The overall message of having to stay hidden to survive is noticeable, but often seems like a tentative copy of similar films such as Wrong Turn.

One factor remains consistent, thankfully. Whether it's the grim surroundings or the grotesquely over-the-top deaths, the film oozes brutality. Faces are gnawed, legs are chewed, bodies are strung; this is horror. Where Dwyer's plotting lacks in originality, it thrives on its gore. Relentless and oftenly nauseating, it's a sure-fire hit with fans of copious amounts of blood and flailing, dismembered body parts.

By no means is Dying Breed terrible. Dwyer energetically attempts to fight her way to the surface by joining two legends. One, however, remains fairly unrepresented as the other merely entertains but descends into pure fantasy. A flawed piece of work, but entertains enough to refrain from falling in the bargain bucket.


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