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"Twelve Canoes" is a series of short films that paint a compelling portrait of the people, history, culture and place of the Yolngu people whose homeland is the Arafura Swamp of north-central Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.
Ex-con Eddie Cleary gets a job working on his older brother's isolated farm. It's not long before bizarre things start happening--dead birds falling out of the sky, family pets attacking their owners, strange apparitions beginning to appear, and people who had been "normal" suddenly going insane. Written by
Odd, Frustrating, But Intriguing Little Film From the Outback
It was late one night and in effort to keep myself entertained, I decided to see what was on the On Demand menu. Zipping through the titles, I came across an obscure 1988 film called "Encounter at Raven's Gate". The plot description didn't say much, just something about aliens and the Australian Outback. Well, having seen the movie, I'm not sure I could even say that. The film begins with a police officer checking out an abandoned, seemly trashed house in the middle of no where who all of sudden gets jumped by a mysterious government scientist, who commandeers the officer into searching for the occupants of the house. From there, the film jumps back five days prior to Eddie Clearly, an ex-con working at his older brother's ranch and who seems to have a fancy for his brother's wife, Rachel. Naturally, this causes a little tension between Eddie and his brother, Richard. But they won't have time to dwell on that too long, for strange things are in the air. Soon birds start falling from the sky, water begins mysteriously drying up, strange radio problems start popping up, strange lights amid people disappearing, and most of all people and animals start acting more viciously all of a sudden.
One particular case of this is a police officer who holds a grudge against Eddie for some reason or another who murders the woman he's in love with but who's banging Eddie because she wouldn't go to the opera with him! What is the cause of all this? Is it due to aliens? Demons? Inter-dimensional beings? Some unknown natural phenomenon or cosmic event? Ultimately the movie never says, leaving the viewer in a frustrating state of what the hell just happened? In a way, though, this could be justified as trying to establish a truthful interpretation of the strange and unexplainable since most, if not all, of what is reported as unknown (UFOs, ghosts, strange creatures in the night, etc.) is, well, unknown. Despite the confusing state of things, the actors take their roles seriously which helps keeps the viewing engaged. Steven Vidler gives a solid performance as Eddie, as does Ritchie Singer as Eddie's brother Richard. The two do an excellent job of establishing tension between their two characters over the strange events and Rachel, played by Celine O'Leary. Furthermore, director Rolf de Heer should be credited with establishing a creepy atmosphere. So with all that said, how would I recommend this film? Well, if you're someone who wants a definite answer and conclusion, you probably want to stay away from this one. But if, on the other hand, you're someone who's up for something weird, wacky and a bit of a mind f--k, then check this out. The "X-files" always said "the truth is out there", but I'll be damned if I could find it here!
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