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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

more black than comic

Author: garland-3 from Sydney
11 January 2000

This creepy black and white short is one of Weir's earliest films. It's much scarier than Picnic or Last Wave and convinced me that if Weir had continued along this line he'd have given Greenaway , Lynch and von Trier a run for their money. Thankfully he seems to have had a better sense of spiritual self-preservation.

The style and incidental touches are very much Weir. Some shots of the bushland surrounds of the sinister guesthouse look forward to the landscapes of Picnic. Watch out, too, for the use of the hymn "O God our help in ages past" which is like, and yet very unlike, the use of hymns in Picnic and Mosquito Coast.

So far as I understand the plot, which is allusive and ambiguous, a motley bunch of guests turn up at "Homesdale Hunting Lodge", seemingly for a rest cure of some kind. At first we wonder whether the place isn't a psych. hospital. The manager and his assistants (one of whom was played by Weir himself) encourage - or compel? - the guests to play some increasingly dangerous games. There are darkly comic allusions to things such as the Psycho shower scene. We soon realize that each guest has a Past - some are downright traumatised - and that what happens to them at Homesdale is no help. Rather the opposite. Indeed the Manager is an early version of a figure who recurs in Weir films - the would-be Puppetmaster (think Billy Kwan, Allie Fox, Christof in the Truman Show).

The conclusion is truly shocking. In fact one is left wondering whether the events have taken place on this earth at all; we feel like we have been looking through a window into Hell.

Clever and frightening but I will not watch it again.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Early Weir

7/10
Author: gavin6942 from United States
26 August 2014

Guests arrive at an expensive private guest house on a remote island near Sydney. The guest house and weird activities, like theatre sports and orienteering, are run by a leery eccentric.

As far as peter Weir goes, he is something of an Australian hero. Some call him an auteur, but let us just say hero. Few have done as much as him to bring attention to the Australian film industry (well, maybe Mel Gibson). Although he really broke out with "Picnic at Hanging Rock", this earlier attempt is much more fun and reminds the viewer of experimental, independent film not unlike that of other greats before their breakthroughs (Cronenberg, Cassavetes, etc.) Weir scholars have suggested this film also develops a theme that Weir would return to in the future: the institution and its push for conformity. Whether this was ever Weir's intention or not is unknown, but that is definitely an underlying message that could be gleaned...

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Strange and surprising

8/10
Author: Woodyanders (Woodyanders@aol.com) from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left
14 August 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A motley assortment of people arrive at an expensive private guest house located on a remote island so they can free themselves from the shackles of the civilized world by engaging in all kinds of mean and bizarre behavior.

Director Peter Weir, who also co-wrote the twisted script with Piers Davies, ably crafts an odd and unsettling tone, relates the absorbing story at a steady pace, presents a colorful array of eccentric characters, and tops everything off with an amusingly off-center sense of pitch-black humor. Moreover, it's acted with zest by an enthusiastic cast, with especially spirited contributions from James Dellit as an obnoxiously cheery manager, Geoff Malone as the meek Mr. Malfry, and Kate Fitzpatrick as the lonely and paranoid Miss Greenoak. The cruel pranks everyone plays on each other gives this quirky short a truly unsettling edge. An interesting curio.

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