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Ben Austwick [Film Festival 09.03.09] Australia review horror thriller

Year: 2009
Directors: Rupert Glasson
Writers: Rupert Glasson
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Ben Austwick
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Since Wolf Creek changed the horror landscape back in 2005 any new Australian horror film is greeted with anticipation, as we wait and see whether they can provide the same nerve-shredding terror that has been so elusive in horror cinema since. Coffin Rock takes inspiration from Wolf Creek in its dingy outback setting and tense psychological drama, but despite some expert film making never quite delivers the scares it promises.

One of Coffin Rock's best aspects is it's excellent story, an emotionally complex look at the claustrophobia of rural outback life. Jess is the local beauty in a small South Australian fishing community, lusted after by the male population, but in a loving relationship with husband Rob. Rob is infertile and to Jess's frustration they don't seem to be able to have children, a problem causing a rift in their marriage. This isn't helped by everyone in the close community they live in knowing about their problems, commenting on them, making fun of Rob and hitting on Jess.

They regularly visit an infertility clinic where Evan, an young Irish drifter played by Sam Parsonson, works as a receptionist. Evan has taken the job to target vulnerable women and hones in on Jess, moving to the town where she lives and weedling his way into the community. He gradually makes the transition from persuer to stalker in an engaging performance of sleazy charm alternating with rage, coloured by flashbacks to his past in Ireland. His psychopathy is the driving force behind the film, which makes a realistic and believable drama from its set-up, playing on the emotional tensions of the community it is set in and bravely taking advantage of the creepy sexual undertones of Evan's obsession with Jess.

Sam Parsonson's excellent performance promises a lot more than it delivers, as Even's potential to destroy all around him is never fully realized. Instead of grinding horror Coffin Rock climaxes with a wearily familiar chase scene complete with a car crashing off a cliff. It isn't badly handled by any means but is a disppointing way to wind-up such a psychologically tense, intelligent and atmospheric thriller. A low-key, surprising ending does much to underline Coffin Rock's intelligence, but this is a film that just promised so much more.

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sonaboy (12 years ago) Reply

"Since Wolf Creek changed the horror landscape back in 2005"

it did what, now? WC was a good movie, but it wasn't a paradigm shift or anything.


agentorange (12 years ago) Reply

It surely put Australia back on the horror map though.


Ben Austwick (12 years ago) Reply

You're probably right there Sonaboy, it was just so damned scary it showed some new possibilities. But maybe nothing more.


Jeff R (12 years ago) Reply

Australia had never been off the horror map since about 1973 and had regularly been turning out tight thriller orientated horror long before "Wolf Creek".

Sam Parsonson was badly cast in this movie for mine, and didn't deliver on the psycho persona in a forced performance.

"They regularly visit an infertility clinic" - well if you call one visit regular.

Such an excellent movie, the camera angles are aggressive and prowling, the audience is the voyuer into the lifes being shown here

Watch out for the Indie "Carmilla Hyde" coming to a movie festival near you soon, another fantasic Aussie thriller.


Ben Austwick (11 years ago) Reply

They visit the clinic once in the film, but for the story have obviously been there regularly before. I should have been clearer maybe.

Agree about Oz horror - Long Weekend was one of the scariest films I saw as a kid - but if there have been some recent ones prior to Wolf Creek, I've missed them.

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