Reviewbr> "Don't think I'd be eating anything you catch in here" - Todd
Rural Australia and years of drought, flood, and changing environmental conditions have hardened the locals. Local Ranger Todd has discovered an unknown alga in a local water supply that feeds into the nearby town's drinking water, he is in the process of posting warning notices and taking samples when a local Farmer warns that a bit of dodgy water isn't going to harm anyone. In fact the farmer has watered his stock just recently with no dire consequences.
When the sun goes down Todd discovers just how dangerous the infected water has become, Skippy has gone full on walking dead on us! But the problems aren't just confined to a few infected mobs of Roos, zombification can jump species and the Roos might just be the tip of the fauna iceberg! Keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times kids, we're going Roo hunting.
I've been following Waterborne since the short was announced to be in production about a century ago, we love our zomroos that much around here, so was more than excited when I found it had shown up on vimeo for public consumption. Even better news is the short is a prequel to a full-length feature film that is currently in development, clearly Octopod films have our backs covered when it comes to future zombie shenanigans. So the question become was the wait for the short worth it when I finally got to see some zomroo mayhem or did producer Marisa Brown simply have some Roos loose in the top paddock.
The plotline is pretty concise without really going anywhere that we haven't seen before, remembering this is a short ergo limited room to move. Todd is a ranger working in a remote area where he has discovered a mysteriously contaminated water supply, the brown stuff rapidly hits the fan from there. Interestingly he puts up a sign warning travellers and locals not to drink the water, all about the algae and what looks to be dead freshwater trout. Okay don't drink the water yet Todd helpfully informs us that the same water source feeds into the local town's water supply. Wait, say what! Without spending too much time on trout, fresh water or otherwise, and the eventual destination of the water, the short kicks off well introducing Todd and a local cynical farmer who is happily using the water regardless of contamination.
We next find night has fallen and the zomroos have come out to play. Actually I was reminded of Hitchcock's The Birds as the roos grow in numbers throughout the remainder of the short, toward the end of the movie check out the backyard. Todd is forced to stop on his road to nowhere by a roo that simply won't get out of the way, and if you have travelled the backroads of Eastern Australia you have no doubt had a similar situation at some stage as our grey kangaroos aren't the most intelligent creatures on the planet. Anyways with Todd stopped on a dimly lit backroad it's time for Skippy of the dead to launch a full on attack that reminded me surprisingly of Jaws, all about the zomroo crashing head long into Todd's ute. What follows is I guess meant to be a tension laced few minutes of mayhem, I didn't really feel any chills or was on the edge of my seat but I did dig the animatronics in use, more on that below.
Things finally boil down to a full on zombie outbreak, or at least the beginning of the end as the zombie apocalypse swings into full infection. Clearly the feature film will kick off from this point with the local townsfolk noticing pets going missing, then people, before it's Night of the Living Roos as the mob of flesh eaters hit town, fingers crossed we are then talking a typical horror siege scenario, always up for one of those.
While the short retains high production values, two thumbs up to the crew who nail the movie requirements, and Director Ryan Coonan keeps things interesting there's just something missing from this horror trip. I wasn't feeling the chills at any stage or checking if the windows were shut in case of a pre-emptive zomroo attack. This could of course be due to the avalanche of zombie outings we are currently getting buried under, or having run across the whole zombie kangaroo thing a number of times previous in Aussie horror literature. There just didn't seem to be anything from the horror bag of tricks going down, Coonan was unable to bring the scare tactics though I would imagine folk who don't normally watch horror getting a few goose bumps as Skippy goes full on psycho.
Got to say I was loving the animatronics and props in use, Coonan nails it and there are a couple of surprises for errant viewers. Coonan throws a scene in of roos bounding away across the road to get things interesting before introducing his stand and deliver Roo, which won't get out of Todd's way. The cream on the top of this particular blood red sundae however is the attacking Roo that looks like one vicious bastard. I experienced more glee than a school girl getting One Direction tickets with the presentation here, looks like Skip has succumbed to zomroo attack rather than contaminated water, the short is worth checking out on this angle alone.
While Waterborne is a zombie outing there's a general lack of blood and guts going down. Don't expect anything like a Tom Savini rampage in the Outback. Similarly T&A isn't happening, though the Roos remain nude throughout, knock yourself out there.
Overall I'm going to say Waterborne was worth the wait, there's a decent story going down and as a harbinger of a full length movie then I'm saying there's good times ahead kids. Good acting, a Director that knows where he's going, and some impressive effects kept me rocking on through the sub 10 minute run time. Check out the short below, it doesn't bite!