I was lucky enough to be invited along to the premier of Brisbane's latest independent feature film last night, a shlock horror joyride from ArtSpear Entertainment that far surpassed my expectations.
Poking fun at what has become the indie film staple – the low budget, lower class horror flick – The Killage at first glance looks like it will simply be just another B-Grade gore-fest like so many that have come before. Even the admittedly hilarious trailers didn't have me convinced, we've all been fooled by previews that showcase the best two minutes of the film. Even the foreword by director Joe Bauer explaining that it's an intentionally B-Grade film shot over two weekends only furthered scepticism, sounding like the go-to defence move of a plethora of bad film makers "It's only bad because I intended it that way, you couldn't possibly understand".
I needn't have been concerned. Within minutes of the film's starting we were all putty in this talented young writer/director/actor/editor's hands. The packed audience laughed and gasped as one; The Killage simply is the perfect mix of humour and terror, the humour a perfect mix of slapstick and sarcastic wit.
The story centres around 11 socially stereotyped recruits on a weekend work retreat (at a summer camp with no phone reception, naturally) hunted by a homicidal maniac in a scary mask. Each of the young actors plays their stereotype brilliantly, adding life and realism to their characters where it could have all become terribly silly. Not once does it stray into 'too far' territory, drawing genuine, deserved laughs rather than relying on uncomfortable, gross-out moments (although those do happen).
There are standout performances, most notably by newcomers to the big screen Rita Artmann (cast appropriately as 'The Hot Chick') and Laura- Jane Turner, both managing to inspire you to care about them despite their character's shortcomings. And of course Joe Bauer, whose self- depreciating humour and seeming inability to feel embarrassment stole the show.
Everything from the lighting to the blood splatter feels polished and complete, if ArtSpear can make a film of this standard with no budget in such a short time then what's everyone else's excuse? Possibly that they don't have Joe Bauer, who single-handedly obsessed over the 400 visual effects shots, managing to create gore excessive and realistic enough to make one flinch and squirm while successfully creating an homage to retro horror flicks of old.
The score, composed by David Lazar in just 8 short weeks, perfectly complements the film, bringing tension, lightness and romance when they're required without ever becoming overblown or in your face, except when that's appropriate and somehow adds to the overall experience.
In short The Killage is simply the funniest movie I have seen in quite some time, a brilliant debut by ArtSpear Entertainment, and a worthy selection to the Bram Stoker Film Festival in the UK this Halloween.
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