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16th Jul 07
Meet young Scot Alex (Shaun Evans) He’s visiting his girlfriend Sophie (Amelia Warner) Down Under when he has a chance encounter with pretty boy American Taylor (Scott Mechlowicz).
Taylor (or is it Jamie?) is a bit clingy but this doesn’t seem to bother Alex, at least not as much as a possibly incriminating photo Taylor has taken of Alex with some other girl. Soon the very obviously psychotic manages to tag along with Alex and his girlfriend as they travel across Australia with his eye on replacing Alex in Sophie’s affections.
Review Gone brings to mind those rather silly psycho-thrillers from the early Nineties, such as Single White Female or Pacific Heights. You know the sort of thing; someone really stupid unwittingly lets someone bonkers into their day-to-day business and then looks on open-mouthed as slowly they lose all control of their life to them. Director Ringan Ledwidge’s movie differs in that whilst it follows the same template it does its best NOT to be like the others, something that works for it in parts but largely against it.
It is apparent that the movie wants to veer away from horror cliché and the other demands of the genre, which kind of contradicts the script material they are putting on the screen. In the final face-off the film-makers concede to some slight goring but by now most of the potential audience for such a thriller would have nodded off and for those awake, the experience will feel oddly out of sorts with all that has occurred before.
Ledwidge, here making his feature film, proves that the eye he showed for award winning visuals in his music video / commercial work is still in evidence if somewhat at the expense of building any tension. Ledwidge seems more interested in photographing the landscape than sticking the lens right into where the real action should be happening, such as on the faces of our main threesome, capturing every nuance of the psychological battle of wills that is happening. The first hour just sort of sits there and it only shifts into gear for the final third.
There is some mild tension in the climatic face-off but the director doesn't know when to rein things in. Rather than just have Sophie text the missing Alex and then see psycho-boy's pocket light up and leave it to the audience to knowingly nod that Taylor has Alex’s phone, Ledwidge has to spoon feed the audience further by having Sophie take the phone out to double check. It makes what could have been an effective scene feel over-egged.
The cast generally do very well with material that feels obvious from the start and a little dated. Hats off to Shaun Evans who manages to make his plonker of a character well-rounded and the same to Miss Warner for fleshing out the dumbness that is Sophie.
Scott Mechlowicz – so effective in 2004’s Mean Creek - flounders as Taylor by being more annoying more than engaging. The audience should be drawn to his character given how charming and manipulative the script appears to be drawing him as. Instead he comes over as childish and irritating. It takes more than fluttering his baby blue eyes and petulant pouting to pull such a role off. The guy is a knob and was so obviously bad news that it irritates that the characters are too stupid to see him for what he really is.
There have been some comparisons to the much superior Wolf Creek but such claims are tenuous. Sure both movies take part in Australia's remote parts and both feature back-packers; however where one had you on the edge throughout, Gone doesn't even try leaving the audience with an unsympathetic lead and a far too non-threatening nut-boy battling it out. The makers of the movie would like you to think you haven’t seen this sort of thing before and that every reveal is a complete shock. It would have been nice to report that was the case but it just isn’t.
BONUS MATERIALS – There’s a video diary of the movie’s shoot where most of the time they bitch about the rainfall or the heat or the flies plus a few deleted scenes with the one where Taylor daps his finger in the sweaty patch left on Sophie’s chair and smells it, coming over as an unintentional giggle rather than creepy.
1st Nov 04 Above all though, it is the relationship between John and Laura Baxter which is the film’s central focus throughout, and the gradual disintegration of their relationship amidst a haze of grief.