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Dying Breed (2008)
24th Sep 09
Two couples set out to deepest Tasmania to see if they can find the very elusive Tasmanian tiger and hopefully find out more about the disappearance of a family member. Instead they find themselves as the mercy of another local legend, that of real-life convict Alexander Pearce, the Pieman, whom people thought to be hanged for cannibalism back in 1824. But Strewth surely, the Pieman can’t still be alive, can he?
This rather nasty Australian movie proves that familiarity does not necessarily breed contempt. Sure, the plotline has been beat out a hundred times in movies before, however first-time director Jody Dwyer, along with co-writers Michael Boughen and Rod Morris, have managed to keep Dying Breed feeling fresh and nicely grisly.
Mirrah Foulkes plays Nina; she is looking into the reason behind her sister’s disappearance/drowning some eight years earlier as well as looking for the same Tasmanian tiger that her sister was also looking for, long thought to have gone the way of the Dodo. Along with her is her boyfriend Matt (Leigh Whannell), Jack (Nathan Phillips) Matt’s arsehole best buddy, who seeks fame and glory for their possible find, and Rebecca (Melanie Vallejo) Jack’s smiling, apologetic girlfriend Rebecca.
It starts slowly however the character interaction, such as Nina not getting along with Jack, is neatly handled; meaning that it doesn’t just play as character tension for the sake of character tension and the audience remains interested. The second half of the movie is well worth the wait with some grim stuff awaiting our guys, bad luck for the characters but great news for the gore hound in us all.
A sliced face, bear traps, arrows and the grimmest dental surgery this side of Marathon Man are just some of the twisted and sick delights that hurtle our way. Dwyer’s movie is grim stuff right up to the very bitter end. The excellent camerawork helps heighten the mood and give a genuine sense of being stuck in the middle of nowhere away from civilisation.
The acting honours go to Nathan Phillips, whom has impressed before with Wolf Creek but then took a nosedive with the disappointing Snakes on a Plane. Phillips manages to breathe life into what might have otherwise been a stereotypical arsehole caricature. Also Leigh Whannell, writer and star of Saw, shows too that he can turn in a neat performance as the rather under-the-thumb boyfriend.
Some critics have rather lazily compared this to Wolf Creek for no other reason than it comes from the same shores. Do the same critics feel there is a need to compare say Night of the Living Dead to A Nightmare on Elm Street for the same reason? No, I didn’t think so, it’s just lazy and the comparison is unfair as this is more The Hills Have Eyes Down Under than a retread of that wonderful 2005 shocker.
Dying Breed lets itself down a little by not knowing quite when to end. Just as you are getting your breathe and toying with what to do with the rest of your evening the writers go and plonk another twist into the proceedings. It fucks up the momentum a little and loses this film half a star.