Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Review - Dying Breed (2008 - Dir. Jody Dwyer)

If there is a film that sums up everything that is useless about horror films, then this could well be a contender.I was half looking forward to this. It's Australian, and there have been some okay horror offerings from there recently, The Horseman in particular (let's forget Snowtown, we'll allow one mistake). As you may have guessed, Dying Breed is more in the latter camp.

Nina (Mirrah Foulkes) is on the trail of an incredibly rare, and possibly non-existent, Tasmanian Tiger. Her sister was drowned whilst on exactly the same expedition eight years previously. Nina is accompanied by her boyfriend Matt (Leigh Whannell - Saw, I know, my Spider-Sense should have tingling at this), his incredibly irritating buddy Jack (Nathan Phillips - amusingly he was John 'Teabag' Teasdale in Neighbours) and his girlfriend Rebecca (Melanie Vallejo). Standard issue stuff so far then. Irritating characters who you can't wait to die: tick. Weaved in with this tiger tickling tale is the story of The Pieman, Alexander Pearce, who escaped from the penal colony in 1824 by eating human flesh: interesting contestant for 'Come Dine With Me'. Actually if he started tearing into the other microwave botherers, I might be tempted to watch it.

Nothing really happens for the first half, apart from Jack being really annoying. Then at about fifty minutes in, it kicks off with, funnily enough, a character dying. Not that you're really aware that they are dying until you see their dead staring eyes at the end of the scene. This death is shot in glorious 'let's-throw-the-camera-around-really-excessively-and-then-edit-it-together-mega-quickly-to-be-down-with-the-kids-in-an-MTV-kind-of-fashion-and-disguise-the-fact-that-we-don't-really-know-how-to-kill-this-character-o-vision'. It is the anti-Fulci style. Terrible.

Now, you'd expect that when you hit that turning point at fifty minutes, you're roughly at the half-way point. So using my powers of mathematical trickery that would put the running time at approximately a hundred minutes. Nope. It clocks in at eighty five minutes. There is nowhere near enough proper horror action in the second half. When the end is reached you can almost feel those missing fifteen minutes. There is a definite, "Oh. Is that it?" moment when the credits start to roll.

Something that is always ridiculed in horror films is the stupidity of the characters, "Ooh, let's go down into this blood bath of a basement filled with flesh-crazed mutants with just a torch." - kind of thing. The characters' motivations and behaviours are so pathetic in this film that it is ripe for top stand up comedians, such as Bradley Walsh, to really rip into it. The number of times characters get told to "Stay here" while nutter moonshine guzzling hillbillies are lurking around killing willy-nilly is beyond belief. Jake, in yet another irritating moment, slashes a mountain man's tyre and then has a toddler strop when one of them keys his new jeep. What did you expect you idiot? I could go on and on and on...

Are there any redeeming features? Mmm... maybe one. Jake's death - is it really a spoiler to say that an irritating character gets killed in a horror film? - is fairly amusing, but even that doesn't have the expected impact. Rather than being a moment to have a little cheer at, I spent a couple of seconds deciding whether what I thought had happened, had actually occurred. In the next shot it is confirmed but by then it's too late. Wait, I've thought of another (oooh). There are some cool shots of a lake. And that's it. 

Australia. Tasmanian Tigers. Mountain men. Cannibalism. This should have been a recipe for a fun-filled chomp-fest. Sadly, it's more of a recipe for dog gip.

If you like this you could also try:
Wrong Turn, Deliverance, The Hills Have Eyes.


  1. Just finished watching this. Had I been properly awake, I probably would have skipped it...but I was lured in by the tiger thing. Also, I was half-awake. :P

    I kept hoping that the killers were tiger-people changelings or something, but nope. Just folks with really sharp teeth.

    I want my 92 minutes back. :/