Monday, October 3, 2011

Dying Breed (2008)

Fact and fiction collide in the backwoods of Australia

This is mostly a formulaic retelling of the backwoods horror film subgenre, though it still comes with some added differences. "Dying Breed" is not trying to be a monumental film or strictly fit in, but include a few tweaks to an already established template. It has the usual amount of taboo breakers such as cannibalism and inbreeding but it plays out as a more gradual and less in your face film compared to others that have amped up the level of atrocities since "Deliverance" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" with some real life legends to make it come more to life...or death however you want to look at it because usually these films come with stacks of fresh corpses.

A prisoner named Alexander Pearce escaped back in the 1800s in Tasmania, Australia. A group of four are trekking out in the wilds to this region in present day to search out the thought to be extinct Tasmanian Tiger--a carnivorous dog/wolf/marsupial hybred with strips on its back resembling a tiger--that hasn't been officially documented in 100 years. A woman on the trip named Nina (Mirrah Foulkes) had a sister that incurred an accident years earlier and she wants to pick up her research where she left off. Her boyfriend Matt (Leigh Whannell) scored a favor from a wild and prankster friend Jack (Nathan Phillips) who also brought along his girlfriend Rebecca (Melanie Vallejo) for the experience. The level of tourism in the area is sparse and the group soon finds some trouble from the male dominated locals with damaged property and snooping eyes.

The next day they head deeper and decide to stay in a cave for the night. At one point they think they spot a Tiger and immediately things turn for the worst when one of them gets attacked and they try and search that person out but get separated. A little girl they encountered back where the locals live suddenly appears along with two other men looking for her with a revelation about Nina's deceased sister. This doesn't play on the usual terrors at first, but instead goes for some mistrust of others and uncomfortableness since they're dealing with strange people in an unfamiliar setting. It plays on an anxiety angle of surviving a set of dire circumstances instead of charging forward with a pounding chest. The issue is you're not always given substantial amounts of scares, action or a lot of collective information to go on at a time since this is aiming more towards being a subtle film. It unfolds in the moment by moment as if it's leading up to something but then that something doesn't fully culminate into making everything you just seen entirely worthwhile since it's partly obvious by the time it gets there. It does have areas that are stretching it but by including that added bit of measurement it attempts to give some authenticity to its plot. That works towards it and also somewhat holds it back. More often than not they strike a balance with some built up anticipation and a level of being trapped by both nature and man by doing all you can to get out.

All and all there are a few twists and turns to surprise or mess with the audience and some stand out scenes to remember for the experience. Though it could have used more of them to truly clench the total package instead of playing it safe on the formula in some areas. There are some jokes, seriousness and caring tones among the roles to give some divided personality. The performances held their own and filled out their respective parts with separation of character. Some parts include charisma without being distracting or over doing it, while others feel like caricatures of their type, such as Jack being the loud and macho kind each time and the boyfriend Matt being the sympathetic crutch for the duration of the film. There isn't much on growth with the characters, as they go in one way, use what they have and remain in that state. This does well with a share of showing rather than telling of its storyline, which steers it away from potential cringe worthy one liners that are usually for the audience's sake but can take one out of the experience. This is still more towards being a tasteful film with the subject matter at hand. The gory scenes aren't always over-the-top but more for necessary shock value, which can leave this somewhat tame for some ravenous gore hounds but still possess terror for the general viewer who's not accustomed to their fellow man being turned inside out.

Rating: 6/10

Director: Jody Dwyer
Stars: Leigh Whannell, Mirrah, Foulkes, Nathan Phillips, Melanie Vallejo
Link: IMDB

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