100 Bloody Acres Dir. Colin and Cameron Cairnes

[http://cyanfilms.com.au/; 2013]

Styles: horror comedy
Others: Delicatessan, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wolf Creek

Accidents, acid, fertilizer, murder — dismemberment and gore could be in that list, too. Profuse, gratuitous and hilarious gore. But I don’t want to undermine the rich palette of 100 Bloody Acres. This is slasher kitsch of a high order. Am I being too blunt or forward? There’s hardly a way to find nuance in a brutal little movie that wants to show you how to slit a throat. Figuratively speaking.

From the grotesque minds of Australian brothers Cameron and Colin Cairnes, 100 Bloody Acres concerns another pair of brothers with a macabre business model: grinding up the carcasses of car crash victims to make a superior blend of fertilizer. Reg and Lindsay Morgan’s (Damon Herriman and Angus Sampson) new venture is close to taking off when the half-witted Reg picks up a couple stranded young bucks (Oliver Ackland as James and Jamie Kristian as Wesley) and the girl that’s sleeping with them (Anna McGahan as Sophie). While riding in the back of Reg’s truck, James and Wesley discover a fresh body, and a panicked Reg takes them back to the family farm. When he gets there, Lindsay steps in, ties everyone up in the barn, and the machinations begin. Simple, yet efficient.

At the center of the ensuing carnage is a human grinder and a laboratory contraption that Lindsay apparently knows how to calibrate. Along with the barn guests, we see the blood-spattered gears turn as he runs their latest catch through the instrument’s teeth. It’s a full-frontal introduction, setting the stage for point-blank shots and comical misfires. The meticulous orchestration of these incidents smoothly supersedes the only plot question (How will they get out?), but the structure is clearly there. James is in queue to be strung up while his girlfriend tries to entice Reg with her knowledge of classic Australian country music; Wesley is tripping on LSD, laughing as he tries to cut the rope around his wrists. The Cairnes brothers weren’t looking to reinvent the genre with this one, but they did create a near-perfect scenario for some laced screwball antics.

Instead of sliding into redundancy by plunking aimless hormonal teens into the story, the writers gave them a modicum of depth and a reason to feud. While they’re trying to get the hell out of there, the foundering relationship between James and Sophie is pushed to the forefront. Even as he hangs above a vat of viscera, the poor sap continues to berate his girlfriend, and watching Reg make gawky advances further incites his fury. It’s juvenile bickering at its finest. He’s a jilted adolescent who can’t see beyond himself or his looming demise, and after all the incessant bitching, he becomes the expendable one.

But true to its title, Acres is not confined to the abattoir. Much of the amusement arises from an attempt to flee and the arrival of interlopers. Lindsay, who embodies the terrifying notion of a mass murderer, is a ruthless and demented villain. His presence in any scene ensures that violence is imminent. To him, the victims are irrelevant. With his insatiable capitalist hunger, he may actually be more motivated that any of the others. He’s running a small operation, and he just wants to get it off the ground.

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