REVIEW: APOCALYPTIC / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: GLENN TRIGGS / SCREENPLAY: GLENN TRIGGS / STARRING: JANE ELIZABETH BARRY, GEOFF PINFIELD / RELEASE DATE: JULY 28TH
The found footage subgenre is often a cheap, easy and cynical way to generate scares. Since the mind-boggling success of 1999's The Blair Witch Project, there has been a slew of imitations, crowding an already overstuffed niche. Glenn Triggs’ Australian horror Apocalyptic has done more to rejuvenate the found footage subgenre than any other film post-2000.
The film opens with documentary journalist Jodie, and Kevin, her camera man, attending an AA meeting where the pair catch wind of a backwoods cult. The duo go to investigate what appears to be a harmless enough commune led by a bloke who claims he’s god reborn enacting out a prophecy. Things inevitably turn sinister.
There’s strong performances from both Jane Elizabeth Barry and Geoff Pinfield as Jodie and Kevin respectively, and the supporting cast do a great job, but it’s David Macrae who gives a show -tealing turn as cult leader Michael Godson (see what they did there?), a demented spiritual leader; part Charles Manson, part Hannibal Lecter.
American film and TV is somewhat preoccupied with the Manson family, and cults are nothing new within the genre, but in an Australian context it really offers something fresh, creepy and effective. Apocalyptic, however, has more in common with Jim Jones’ infamous suicide cult than the Tate murders.
Like The Wicker Man, the film is concerned with esoteric spiritual values versus Christianity, not as explicit, but it’s there, bubbling under the surface. Kevin’s light relief offers moments of respite that make this a complex and three-dimensional piece of storytelling, which never seems to take sides.
Coming in at well under 90 minutes, Apocalyptic doesn’t take a huge time investment, but it’s a demanding film nevertheless. A lot of the best horror is, at its heart, simple and Apocalyptic is stripped back but no less effective. It builds up to an utterly harrowing ending as ambiguous as it is unflinching. There have been many Blair Witch imitations but Apocalyptic may just have done one better.
Extras: Making of / Director's commentary / Trailers