Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dying Breed (2008)

I know I said Autopsy was next, but despite the fact that it was at the top of my queue, Netflix popped down and shipped Dying Breed instead. The is the third movie I've watched from this year's ADH, and it maintains the continuity of a satisfying trend. Though not as good as Perkins' 14 or Voices--especially Voices--Dying Breed holds its own and delivers a gritty, frenetic horror movie, complete with likable characters and a good portion of suspense despite knowing by the cover and the title it's a cannibal flick.

Before saying anything else I'd like to mention that I spent the first 45 minutes straining to hear the movie over the most tumultuous dishwasher invented! Sometimes I wonder if it actually destroys all the dishes, cleans the fragments, and then pieces them back together. Also, I fell asleep just after it stopped and had to finish the second half the next day (just now). Not that it was so bad at the 45-minute mark I fell asleep; I was seriously fatigued after spending four hours in the sun, wearing a black graduation gown. The movie was a treat. I'm anxious for next year's selection if this is the route their headed.

The movie plays out like the best of horror movies and novels. We get a simple sequence of events in the beginning to alert us that 'this place is dangerous.' Then, four classic characters are introduced and sent to the dangerous place from the beginning. We have Nina and Matt--the only two who seem to be there out of scientific curiosity; and Jack and Rebecca, who seem to be there to hunt and to die, respectively. Nina plays the classic Woman Devoted to Research. Matt plays the Softy Who Has a Thing For Woman Devoted to Research. Jack plays the tattoo-plastered jock who engages in copulation (one of my favorite words, ever) with Rebecca, who plays I Am Only Here to Die. These characters were truly a joy to watch; they owned their roles and executed brilliant performances. Like I said, this movie keeps the streak alive for this year's fest. So far, it looks like whoever had a hand in accepting films wasn't in a hurry to get the selection over with.

The characters venture into Tasmania in search of the mythical Tasmanian tiger. They 'touch base' at a little town where everything is named after the Pieman (watch opening scene for background on that). For a while, the film plays out just like movies like Wrong Turn, and countless other films where city folk encroach on hillbilly territory, though it quickly redeems itself as it reveals some unsettling truths. The movie includes some flashbacks that appear to play in the mind of one of the locals, which is a nice touch.

Let's be honest with ourselves and call it what it is: a cannibal flick. So, yeah, it has a fair amount of predictability for a while. One of the group members ends up missing (can you guess which one?), the group gets split up, and a fair amount of flesh is torn. But unlike most flicks, Dying Breed has a handful of scare tactics that it utilizes effectively. And it takes a dark turn into a bleak hole and continues to plummet until a sinister ending! Seriously, all I could think about was Jack Ketchum's Off Season!

The only bad thing I can say is that it seemed like they really tried to shove the motive for the savage locals in the audience's face at the end. By that point, you pretty much understand that they are keeping their lineage alive by using female tourists to procreate (e.g. all of the flashbacks to Nina's sister giving birth). Also, it was as if they tried to lead you astray by inserting the Tasmanian tiger plot. Were they trying to fool us into thinking that the title and all of the brutality had to do with this rare species? This was a little confusing. Then, to further confuse matters, the closing frame revealed the fact that there really was a Tasmanian tiger in there with them after all, even though we saw it with our own eyes back when that scene happened!

The absolute best part is the nice little 'film splice' during the credits to reveal what was really in the pie our 'native' officer urged his fellow officer to indulge in. I had a fairly good idea what it was already, but the movie gets points for this. Thanks for the meat pies, Sweeney Todd!

Review Soundtrack:
Opeth - "Hex Omega"
August Burns Red - "The Seventh Trumpet"

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