After she and her best friend Maddie are abducted, teenager Kayla awakens alone in a box in the middle of a desolate woodland. She soon discovers that she and several other young women are being forced to participate in a life or death game where they’re hunted by masked madmen armed with gory weaponry, and have to figure out the rules if they want to make it out alive.

It’s often a swiftly engaging setup where people awake in an unfamiliar location and must quickly discern what the hell is going on lest they meet a quick demise, with versions ranging from the small and subdued (Cube) to the excessively bombastic (Predators), but The Furies fails to capitalise on the potential of its premise. The introduction may have been more effective had the opening scene of Kayla and Maddie’s abduction – in which Australia kowtows to Hollywood convection and requires us to believe that a pair of women clearly well into their 20s are in fact teenagers – had been cut out, with the film instead opening on Kayla waking up in her wooden prison.

There is a wide gulf between coming up with an idea and actually figuring out how to craft a compelling story out of it, and unfortunately writer-director Tony D’Aquino seems to have fallen directly into it. There is a little more to the hunt than the free-for-all the premise suggests, but it’s not enough to make the film truly stand out. Likewise, it incites a slightly different variance in character interaction than normal, but again doesn’t form enough substance to transcend the filler material that makes up most of the running time.

It’s made apparent early on that there is an unclear number of girls and maniacs running around somewhere in the forest, but it’s never clearly established how many there are of either, and so the regular kills mean little in terms of plot advancement since there’s no way of knowing how many are still alive, while the deaths themselves make little impact due to the minimal time spent introducing most characters before they are unceremoniously dispatched.

The setting is suitably eerie, the desolation of the Australian outback being once again used to great effect in its impassable expanse isolating the events, while the slim, sun-bleached trunks of the trees reach out of the ground like the bone fingers of a skeleton hand threatening to crush all within it. The violence is suitably gory enough to satisfy those who can’t get enough of the likes of visceral dismemberments and brutal eviscerations, but the film has little else to recommend it. Some neat ideas are infused into the plot, such as Kayla’s epilepsy providing an added danger that can – and does – periodically leave her helpless, but they come off more as afterthoughts.

The dialogue sounds like it was written by someone unfamiliar with the patterns of everyday conversations, in particular one character whose childish naiveté is supposed to imply her being little more than a girl, but instead sounds like an attempt to mimic human speech after previously only having heard the concept vaguely described.

The Furies squanders its potential on an overly familiar progression of events, resulting in a half-baked film that could have been so much more, yet is content to retread the same paths as countless films before it.