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Simon Read [Celluloid 06.24.19] Australia horror

While I initially mistook this for a film about adults who dress up as furry animals, The Furies is actually a graphic splatter movie from Australia about a group of young women who are kidnapped and taken to a forest as part of a sadistic game where they act as prey to a bunch of psychopathic masked murderers. It's a familiar set up to anyone with an interest in the horror genre, but The Furies is set apart both in the skill with which it is made, and the fact that it takes us places we didn't expect to go. It's also quite funny.

Kayla (Airlie Dodds) wakes up in a box in a forest and meets two other women who have found themselves in the same situation, and together they figure out a plan for survival. It's such a well-worn trope that you'd be forgiven for the assumption that Furies will turn out like any other slasher-in-the-woods genre flick, but writer-director Tony D'Aquino has a few surprises in store.

The first thing of note is that every single death in this film counts. The first time we see a victim murdered the nature of the kill is such that one can either laugh at how gruesomely over-the-top it is, or just pass out from sheer revulsion. The audience I was with laughed - A collective hysterical reaction. D'Aquino does not shy away from showing extreme gore, but it is all done with a sense of perverted irony - if that's a thing.

Each of the crazed killers is inspired by a different icon from the world of horror cinema. One wears a mask like Leatherface, another resembles Freddy Krueger, and another Jason Voorhees. I'm sure one of the creepy baby masks from Brazil was in there, and the Owl from Stagefright too. The costumes are inspired, and really set this film apart from its kin.

All this gives the film a sense of fun, as though the killers (who occasionally target one another) each possess their own distinct personality, something which, following a twist to the formula, is explored over the course of the film.

Important too is the fact that the women here are not one-note victims, they are perfectly capable of fighting back. One of the best moments in the film sees a masked killer unexpectedly reconsidering his motives when confronted with a blood-spattered, wild-eyed, machete-wielding woman. It's a nice moment of post-modern feminism. The female characters are allowed to breath and develop relationships (albeit rather strangled ones) which helps enormously in carrying the film along.

The Furies doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It's a slasher film, so it doesn't really need to. You get on the roller coaster and take the ride, and you won't be bored for a moment. This is a perfect midnight movie for gorehounds.

Recommended Release: Wrong Turn (Collection 1-5)

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