Proof that a ridiculously low budget and tight shooting schedule (the entire film needed ADR after rain ruined the soundtrack) doesn’t mean you have to shoot found footage. And while this Antipodean comedy-horror’s humour might prove too childish for many tastes, it’s a surprisingly accomplished entertainment, particularly given its modest provenance.
A group of twelve mostly strangers embark upon a work retreat in the middle of nowhere. It’s not long after they arrive that one of them turns out to be a psychotic killer, and one by one the bodies pile up; so far, so cliché, but when your primary influence is Scary Movie rather than V/H/S, that’s all part of the fun.
Shot over two weekends in 2010, the entire film was storyboarded out to ensure maximum efficiency, and this attention to detail shows. Rather than shaky-cams following amateur actors making it up as they go along, instead a defined script keeps the pace up and the broadly painted characters distinct, as the story makes its way towards an inexorable reveal of who the killer is.
The effects are mostly very proficient, with the deaths delightfully gruesome and generally appropriate to the archetypes in question; the characters might be caricatures, the Goth, the Jock, the Nerd and so on, but it’s pleasing that in spite of some especially obvious performances (writer / director Joe Bauer being the worst culprit), almost all of the cast – and certainly the central group – manage to elicit empathy as well as laughs. Perhaps because of its Australian sensibility, political correctness is out of favour, with one character’s treatment (both of the others and at the hands of the others) being something you’d be unlikely to see in a film originating in the northern hemisphere.
The resolution is ridiculous and correspondingly therefore appropriate, with Bauer savvy enough to have kept the order in which his characters depart almost entirely arbitrary, making it impossible to guess either at the killer’s identity or who precisely will survive to the final credits. That you care, when The Killage could so easily have been yet another forgettable exercise in cheap horror moviemaking with as little imagination as budget, is another achievement – and there is at least one genuine surprise when a likeable character gets it in the neck. It’s a mark of the film’s comedy ambitions that this character’s role in the film is far from over at this point.
If you’re fed up with found footage, and you’re willing to suspend your taste buds for an evening – and there will be many for whom the whole thing is intolerable, with very little subtlety anywhere to be found – there are far worse ways to spend it than watching this.
Special Features: Commentary / Three featurettes / Outtakes / Trailer
THE KILLAGE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: JOE BAUER / SCREENPLAY: JOE BAUER / STARRING: RITA ARTMANN, JOE BAUER, DRYDEN BINGHAM / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 26TH