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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Red Hill (2010)

Ever wondered what happened to Greg McLean? You know, the man who made Wolf Creek and Rogue? He's been quiet for a few years now, but not as quiet ad first though, as he's been busy living-it up as a producer on this little gem, Red Hill. For that Greg, I thank you. Patrick Hughes directorial debut is a beast of beauty and is one of the very best films to see a release in 2010. That's not something I say lightly either, as this has been a very good year for us film fans.

Shane Cooper has just been relocated from the big city to the small town of Red Hill in hopes to reduce his wife's blood pressure and aide their pregnancy. His first day starts smoothly enough, attending a farmer whose horse has been attacked by a wild animal... run-of-the-mill country stuff. When news breaks of a jail-break and that ex-local, Jimmy Conway, has escaped; the day is about to take a drastic turn for the worse. The town's police department are scared shitless and it soon becomes clear why, Conway is a killing  machine and he's coming back home to finish something that was started years previous.

What is so enjoyable about Red Hill is it's not trying to wow you or impress you with mind-bending story structure or even good old spectacle. No, Red Hill is a good ol' fashioned Western that's a pleasure to watch play out. The story is a simple one, timeless even, a fish-out-of-water caper that's a little darker than most, but still undeniably fun. Ryan Kwanten proves a highly likeable lead and gives a great performance; and he's backed-up brilliantly by Tommy Lewis and the murderous Conway. He's a frightening figure to be sure, but there's something in his eyes, beyond his disfigured face that leaves you siding with him at times. Especially when Shane's workmates are as dickish as some here!

Director Hughes takes full advantage of the Australian outback and it's gorgeous surroundings, giving us a beautifully photographed film as well as some fine set-pieces to match anything in a Hollywood blockbuster; with mid-street shoot-outs, car chases and 'slasher-esque' chase downs littered throughout the films duration. Placing these events in a modern frontier-like town is a brilliant touch, making what has been scene thousands of times previously fresh and exciting. This is where Red Hill truly impresses. Nothing is original about this film, but that doesn't stop it from being entertaining. This is unmissable stuff to be sure, and marks Ryan Kwanten as a future Hollywood lead, as well as a promising new director. On top of that it shows us that Greg McLean as a great eye for a worthwhile script and has a great sense for talent from his producers chair!

Australia has had a cracking year, producing some of the finest films of 2010. Let's hope they continue this incline and explode in 2011, for fans of balls-to-the-wall goodness, Red Hill is a must see. It's not big, it's not even clever, but it is thoroughly entertaining from start to finish – which is something rare indeed with modern action films.  Do yourselves a favor and see this as soon as you can, then tell your friends about it. Recommended viewing to be sure!

Red Hill is due out on DVD and Blu-ray on the 25th January 2011 from Sony Pictures US.
There is no UK release date as of yet.

Psycho Shark (2009)

Okay, how do you set about talking about Psycho Shark? It's a film so bizarre, and I don't mean in a David Lynch or Takashi Miike deliberately bizarre sorta way, no; this film is just baffling. The closest I can come to describe it would be a Jess Franco movie channeled via The Blair Witch Project, made for a market that doesn't appreciate nudity, yet likes sexploitation... and possibly sharks. That's pretty much what this film is, a sexploitation shark movie with neither sex nor a shark... well there is a shark, but that's about 10 seconds of screen time from the 69 minutes of Franco-esque shots of inanimate objects... and the bikini-clad actresses enjoying the salty ocean waters.

Two young girls, Miki and Mai, travel to a seaside resort for a relaxing getaway. Mai hooks up with one of the locals and leaved Miki to her own devises. Mai stumbles upon a tape in their room, the tape is of three young girls who had come to the same resort for a good time. Turns out the handsome stranger Miki has hooked up with also hooked up with the previous batch of girls... and their home-movie documents a pretty bad ending for them. It's up to Miki to rescue her friend before she ends up like the previous guests.

As you can tell from the synopsis, there's no mention of a shark! There's a psycho, yes, but shark? Nuh-uh. What Psycho Shark actually is would best be described as a 15 minute short film stretched out to un-imaginable lengths with the same goddamn filler played over and over. Miki seems hell-bent on watching the videotape over and over again, watching a scene only to rewind and start again! It's infuriating to the point of hilarity.

Some viewers will be enamored with the leading ladies chest-sizes and non-stop jiggling, others will be wondering just why they do everything in their swimsuits. Others will be annoyed by the fact they don't actually take their bikini's off – not even when their in the shower! But most will be wondering 'where is the shark?”.  It's there alright, and only the most patient of viewer will be able to sit through this mind-numbingly goofy tale to bask in that long awaited sharks-ploitation! Having said that, it's so ridiculous in execution that it actually feels worth the wait!

Amidst all of the bouncing tits and ominous shots of the ocean, there's some very fetching cinematography here for those who like a beautiful composition to go with their over-spilling breasts. It's obviously a very low-budget feature, yet some shots are captured beautifully and give the film a professional sheen from time to time. It's all little too late however, had this been a 15 minute short-film it would have been a little treat, at nearly 70 minutes however, it's an endurance test, with the temptation to hit the fast-forward button growing with every replay of that damn found tape! Psycho Shark is one heck of a curio, and something of an experience that cult-fans will likely get a little kick from it, in that 'I survived Psycho Shark' sort of way. The creators of this film really deserve credit for somehow managing to find distribution outside of Japan! Sane people, avoid this like the plague!

Psycho Shark is available to buy now!