REVIEW: 100 Bloody Acres [2013]

Score: 6/10 | ★ ★ ½

Rating: NR | Runtime: 91 minutes | Release Date: August 1st, 2013 (Australia)
Studio: Music Box Films / Cinedigm Entertainment Group
Director(s): Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes
Writer(s): Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes

“…We’ll Fertilize Ya!”

There is a fine line between horror spoof and horror comedy. The former tries to make fun of the genre while the latter looks to appeal to audiences of both halves. Since most horror generally has a comedic streak anyway, accomplishing this duality above the juvenile humor of a Scary Movie shouldn’t be too hard. But while comedies with horror elements—Beetlejuice, Bubba Ho-Tep, and Ghostbusters—have been a staple through the years, it was 2004’s Shaun of the Dead that gave mainstream audiences a chance to embrace the idea that their fear-induced nervous laughter could evolve into bona fide laughs. Descendants of the 80s cult classics only true fans knew and loved are now ruling marquees and this new breed of hybridized horror may even be out-numbering those solely looking to scare.

Sadly, most of these entries feel the need to romanticize the undead. Whether it’s Warm Bodies’ effective subversion of the rom/com, Twilight’s overwrought tween sex fantasies, or “True Blood” fetishizing supernatural tropes, where are the consequences of mortality? All of a sudden it’s sexy to be dead? No, it’s not. Sorry. There’s something sacred about the sole survivor of a horror flick left to tell the tale of carnage they endured to the masses and the whole backwoods, white trash cesspool sub-genre containing the likes of The Hills Have Eyes or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre doesn’t need to die simply because incest isn’t sexy. In fact, mankind’s penchant for ridiculing such “low” cultures as a knee-jerk reaction—see anything labeled ‘reality TV’ today—actually makes it a prime candidate for comedy infusion.

While it’s neither the first—I can think of at least Tucker & Dale vs. Evil before it—nor the last, Australian brothers Cameron and Colin Cairnes have sutured together a worthy pastiche in 100 Bloody Acres. Eccentric small business owners of an organic blood and bone fertilizer company, Lindsay (Angus Sampson) and Reg Morgan (Damon Herriman) have found themselves on the cusp of landing some very lucrative farm deals thanks to a morbid idea hatched from driving by a gruesome traffic accident leaving six people dead. Taking the bodies with them as they would any festering roadkill along their way, the Morgans unwittingly prepared a batch of fertilizer that put all their non-human supply to shame. The question than became whether they’d ever be able to match it again.

This is where we’re introduced to Reg’s simpleton delivering product to their biggest client, Butch’s Potatoes. We watch him silently wrestle with conscience after a van crashed into a tree, ultimately deciding it the perfect opportunity to replenish their depleted “secret ingredient”. He’s nervous, paranoid, and scared at what he’s done, but it’s not like it’s any different than what Lindsay did before him. And he might have gotten away with it too if not for the requisite trio of college-aged kids on their way to a concert that flag him down as a result of their ride’s over-heating engine. Reg finds himself getting greedy—and lustful towards ‘city slut’ Sophie (Anna McGahan)—offering them a ride as long as they don’t mind a quick detour to his farm first.

A grisly race against time for survival as the much more formidable and intelligent Lindsay readies their new lambs for slaughter, 100 Bloody Acres is also a somewhat deft character study relying on the secretive relationships its players share and/or develop in the process. Sophie is the lone woman in the middle with boyfriend James (Oliver Ackland) ready to propose, Wesley (Jamie Kristian) happy to steal her from him now that’s he’s returned from time abroad, and Reg yearning for someone in his life that isn’t his brother or Auntie Nancy (Chrissie Page). And with nothing standing between them and the ruthless Lindsay besides a bumbling country cop and a derelict tourist trap called Fantasy Land, Sophie and the boys must rely on their own wits to escape with their lives.

This proves a challenge as soon as Wesley drops acid on the drive to the Morgan farm, his hallucinogenic stupor making him anything but the savior they’ll need him to become. Add Reg’s inability to stand up for himself in his desire not to hurt his new friends—despite taking them—and the Cairnes have created an intriguing dynamic of helpless kids, their frightened captor, and the menacing overlord who wants to fulfill his promise to Butch by providing more of their newly formulated product. While such a situation is humorous unto itself, revelations about Nancy’s connection to the boys, Reg’s girlfriend Becks, and Sophie’s betrayal towards James ensure it all comes to a riotous conclusion of warped love affairs wherein the dire life-or-death circumstances go on the back shelf.

The Cairnes’ inject some nice small town flavor too with talk about a community fundraiser and a ton of local radio ads playing as the Morgan brothers await their own jingle’s debut. A copious amount of blood spills courtesy of effective special effects once bodies grind to a liquid viscosity, appendages are slice off, and gunshot wounds are earned. And while the trio of victims may prove too calm considering their plight, Herriman and Sampson more than pick up the slack with their darkly drawn, predatory caricatures. Everything may end up working out how you’d expect, but the details of these resolutions are far from obvious courtesy of the filmmakers having no qualms with taboo or Stockholm syndrome. It all results in a fun ride with a high body count—one increased even after the credits finish rolling.

Released 10/1/13 on Xbox/Zune, Playstation, Amazon Instant, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, and Blu-ray / DVD (Through Music Box Films).

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