Pay attention, Hollywood - Australia has a message for you: revenge is a dish best served cold. When it comes to this claim, I need only point to you towards four of this year’s films from the Outback: Sean Byrne’s ultra-violent love story, THE LOVED ONES, David Michôd's super badass Aussie version of POINT BREAK - ANIMAL KINGDOM, and Nash Edgerton's THE SQUARE, which shows that when good people make bad decisions, things will get uncontrollably messy. Before I kick things off, I also want to recognize two films: Patrick Hughes's RED HILL, and Spencer Susser's HESHER, which premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Susser is part of Blue Tongue Films, along with Michôd and Edgerton's writer/actor Joel, and writer/director/actor Nash. You could classify this collective of talent the badass-and-not-at-all-bratty Brat-Pack. They mesh together behind and in front of the camera. RED HILL is the ultimate revenge flick. Its tagline even suggests, “Revenge just rode into town.” All we know is there is a guy that looks like a fried Anton Chigurh who just broke out of a maximum security prison and is after a veteran sheriff. This lone wolf is not afraid of death, and he spends a vast majority of the film hunting for the sheriff and his goons in the titular small town of Red Hill. Aiding the sheriff is newcomer Shane Cooper (True Blood's Ryan Kwanten), who’s just trying to find a place of peace for him and his pregnant wife. Blood is splattered, truths are unfolded, and a jukebox full of good rock music leads the pissed off man to people’s graves.
HESHER stars some of the best young Hollywood actors working today - Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Natalie Portman - and they only up the awesome factor of this film. Gordon-Levitt broke from his clean childhood stardom into an excellent - and here, very disturbing - leading man. You may have seen Susser’s short on the Internet at one point in your life, I LOVE SARAH JANE. Susser is that director that understands what teen angst really is (absent-minded, violent, raw, confusing) and projects it very well on-screen. This article first began its baby steps when I watched Byrne’s THE LOVED ONES back in April for the Dallas International Film Festival. I remember the day Rusty (Gordon) brought the screener over and asked me to watch it ASAP and call him right after. The only thing I knew about the film was its title - nothing else. What I was about to find out was this film was going to smack everything I’ve seen this year upside the head and become my number one film of the year - and it was only April. For the entire duration of THE LOVED ONES, I was on the edge of my dear friend’s couch, heart pounding in chest, with my eyes super glued to the TV. This film gave a new meaning to Chase Whale’s movie-watching experience. There are batshit crazy people in this world, and THE LOVED ONES pushes the realistic terror of those types of people. Throw all your emotions out the door, because this one will take it all out of you. Next up: ANIMAL KINGDOM (which also premiered at Sundance and won the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize award). It’s a dog eat dog world and ANIMAL KINGDOM shows exactly what we humans will sometimes do when we’re backed in a corner and our animal instincts kick in. To paint a better picture for you, my wonderful reader, I compared this to one of the best - and most quotable - U.S. crime classics of the 90s, POINT BREAK. What we’re dealing with in ANIMAL KINGDOM is cops versus robbers. Good guys versus. bad guys. Good guys become bad guys - bad guys become good guys. Everyone does whatever they can to survive. Dog. Eat. Dog. You can take that to the bank. Or rob it. The last, but certainly not the squarest, is Nash Edgerton’s directorial debut, THE SQUARE (co-written by and starring his brother, Joel). His short film SPIDER first gained him all sorts of positive buzz around the Internet geek world. Have you seen it? It’s really fucked up. Then he made THE SQUARE, which displays the trials and tribulations of a once-good married man who chances life to run away with someone else; the two plan a rotten scheme to be together to make that happen. You’re very smart, so you already know things don’t exactly spread out the way they want. Things go from bad to worse, to no turning back. It’s a very enlightening look at how people pay no mind to the actual consequences of the bad judgments they put themselves into. Almost nothing will stay hidden – or in THE SQUARE’s case, buried – forever. Below are links to all the coverage we have done for these films. I really hope you enjoy reading and watching these, along with this article: Interview: THE LOVED ONES writer/director Sean Byrne THE LOVED ONES review Video Interview: ANIMAL KINGDOM actor Ben Mendelsohn Video Interview: ANIMAL KINGDOM writer/director David Michôd ANIMAL KINGDOM review Video Interview: THE SQUARE director Nash Edgerton THE SQUARE review Video Interview: RED HILL writer/director Patrick Hughes and actor Ryan Kwanten RED HILL review