Dying Breed interweaves the two most fascinating icons of Tasmanian history: the extinct Tasmanian tiger and "The Pieman" (aka Alexander Pearce) who was hanged for cannibalism in 1824. ... See full summary »
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Dying Breed interweaves the two most fascinating icons of Tasmanian history: the extinct Tasmanian tiger and "The Pieman" (aka Alexander Pearce) who was hanged for cannibalism in 1824. Against all odds, Pearce escaped from the most feared penal settlement of the British Empire - Sarah Island - and disappeared into the impenetrable forests of Western Tasmania. Seven convicts escaped with him, yet Pearce was the only one that emerged... along with chunks of human flesh in his pockets. The legend of Pearce was born. An extinct species... a long forgotten legend... both had a desperate need to survive; both could now have living descendants within the Tasmanian bush. Many sightings of the tiger have been reported. Many hikers have gone missing. Hundreds in fact. Zoologist Nina is convinced there are still tigers remaining in the Tasmanian wilderness, and she has proof - a photograph of a paw print snapped by her sister just before she met with a fatal accident in the bush eight years ... Written by
The little hype surrounding this Australian feature is probably better left unnoticed, as while I found it solid it doesn't pull any out punches we haven't already gone through before to leave an impressive imprint. Hey it reminded me of an other Australian horror film 'Wolf Creek (2005)' and maybe 'The Hills Have Eyes (2006)' remake, but this time the escalating terror is found in the beautiful forests of Tasmania as a group of young adults head out searching for the supposedly instinct Tasmanian tiger, but actually earth up something more horrifying about the area's local history.
For me this film really came out of nowhere, as the striking poster artwork (featuring a half eaten pie with an eyeball and finger within it) caught my attention and some rave reviews can feed your appetite. Sadly though, I was only one of four who were at the cinema to see it. I probably could've gone without seeing it and waited for it to hit DVD, but there's nothing quite like watching a horror film on the big screen.
What this story sets off to be is a little unsure, but about midway through you know where it's heading (Psycho territory with cannibalistic currents). I might sound like a broken record, but really this isn't nothing new compared to much modern horror focusing on the visual torture and torment of its victims. While it might not be as abundant, it still lingers and has a really nasty side. It has explicitly raw moments with pockets of vicious intensity, but it was not the violence that unnerved but the ominously remote woodland backdrop with constant eerie imagery. The scenery is gorgeously lush, but lurking beneath the gracefully hypnotic setting is the true grotesque horror that's hidden very well. The nocturnal, but surprisingly also the day sequences can get under your skin. The cinematography is professionally catered for with it drawing upon the atmosphere and setting. Editing is brisk, but well infused.
As for the story it uses actual facts and spins them in to total fiction. The main base of the story centres on the history of the extinct Tasmanian tiger, which some still believe exists and combining that legend of the cannibalistic Irish convict Alexander Pearce that managed to escape from the penal colony and headed for the wilderness to only be hanged in 1824. Then we hit modern times with a group of four after the exclusive photograph of the Tiger, but one of girls lost her sister within the same area they're visiting in a supposed drowning many years earlier. Now cue those articles of missing backpackers. But when they meet the creepy locals, the inbred jokes flow. Still we're flooded with flashbacks, piled on to flashbacks. Even if the set-up is clichéd and obviously formulaic, these back stories do give it a little more background and depth, and lessens the idea of turning in to something meaningless. The script has its questionable actions, but mainly lets it go about things.
The pacing is rather leisured, and I can see many complaining about the slowness of the opening half (think of the criticism that 'Wolf Creek' copped). But I thought it was milked out accordingly and with a purpose, to hit you hard when it finally changed direction. Featuring heavily is that it centres on mood, visuals and sounds than that of tearing and ballistic actions. Even when it does break out from it's causal handling, it still doesn't burst out and only adds tension with jolts in scattered slabs and formulated rushes. When it comes to the end, I found it to be stumbling there and results not entirely satisfying. But it still keeps that glum feel throughout.
Jody Dwyer's assured direction is slick and stylish. Maybe too so, but it's a brash display as his not afraid to bare gore and flesh usually the latter in recent times sees little daylight in the mainstream horror releases. Even animal lovers should be aware. The performances are workmanlike, but no real empathic edge was created. Well not for me. One thing though it never seemed like they were ever aware in what type of situation they were or could be in, but when it unfolded it didn't entirely changed the perception. Leigh Whannel, Nathan Phillips, Mirrah Foulkes and Melanie Vallejo play the unlucky party.
A basic, but durably crafted genre effort.
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