"Jason what happened to Natasha?" - Tony Stewart
It's a hot Queensland day drinking beers next to the pool for friends Jason and Donkey. Jason's girlfriend Natasha is taking advantage of the pool at least, but everyone is slightly bored and after an adventure. Donkey doesn't want to spend another day at the beach and mentions the legend of Charlie's Farm to Jason, who laps up the idea of a haunted farm as he is a horror fan. Naturally they aren't going to tell Natasha and her mate Melanie, who is invited along as sort of a possible love interest for Donkey, where they are headed due to the gory stories surrounding the farm. During the trip the girls do get an inkling of horror central Aussie outback style but the boys are dedicated to finding the elusive farm.
Naturally they do find the farm and some Ks back from the road the farmhouse, which although dilapidated still attracts the unwary traveller out to experience the atmosphere. The team decide to camp the night in the house, Jason is a horror fan? - and Melanie wakes drowsy during the night and sees a large silhouetted figure in the doorway. The rest put it down to being a nightmare and happily welcome a couple of backpackers, who have also been lured to visit the site. Naturally some legends have a basis in reality and Charlie doesn't like trespassers on his farm and takes care of the intrusion Charlie Wilson style.
Chris Sun, who here shows a marvellous understanding of the horror genre, delivers his third movie and for mine his best to date. Sun finally has a large budget, by Aussie standards, and a reasonable size cast to play with and isn't holding back on delivering a modern day slasher/backwoods massacre flick. Prior to release Sun had stated he wanted to create an Aussie horror icon to rival the big four American protagonists of Jason, Michael, Freddie, and Leatherface, whether or not he achieves that is questionable and for mine Mick Taylor remains the quintessential Aussie dude with the sharp metal. Still strap in for a good time, Charlie is going to have you grinning from ear to ear if you don't mind some gore and outback terror.
Sun gets his movie out of the blocks with a flashback to a couple coming under the attention of Charlie, who we dimly see and discover isn't that hospitable to uninvited guests. This ' is juxapositioned to modern day Sunshine coast living which is all sun and laidback living as we meet three of our leads who are simply kicking back living the life. Naturally worlds are going to collide and for the audience we are waiting on the metal to meet the flesh in time honoured horror fashion. This takes some time as the farm's location is a guarded secret and it's not like there's a roadside stall selling souvenirs or anything. Sun may be accused of padding out his movie due to the time spent with our four leads on the road, but I kind of dug the interplay and the road kill shots that Sun uses as foreplay to the main massacre we expect to arrive in due course.
Naturally the team do end up finding the farm and to be honest the farmhouse was slightly disappointing, though the whole setup was saved by a few outbuildings containing rusting equipment and darkness. If you have seen the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre then you'll have some idea of the dilapidated condition the decaying farm is in. Your outback Psycho really isn't interested overly in having his place listed in House and Garden. Naturally, since Jason is a horror freak, the foursome bed on down sealing their fate. One of the strengths of Charlie's Farm is Sun's eye to capturing the locations and highlighting them, you really do get a feel that the decrepit farm buildings are isolated from the rest of the World.
Naturally, as these films tend to do, we get some background details on the trials and tribulations of Charlie's boyhood, actually told in two flashback scenes. Seems Charlie's parents Meredith and John Wilson had a few Roos loose in the top paddock. Backpackers and farm workers tend to disappear around the Wilson farm, a fact that isn't lost on locals. While it is never explicitly stated there is a hint that the Wilson's are feeding their victims to the pigs or maybe using them for an addition to the pantry. John naturally has other uses for the ladies falling under his untender mercies. Growing up in the madness is Wilson's son, who is referred to as the "retard" and who has some physical deformities completing the picture of outback debauchery. The locals decide enough is enough and march on the Wilson farm in numbers intent on ending the Wilson reign of terror. Charlie is hidden before he comes to harm but John is shot to death and before Charlie's eyes Meredith is beaten to death. And if anyone is thinking hey this is just like Jason Voorhees and his mom then you wouldn't be alone.
With Jason's crew firmly establishing themselves at the farm Sun gives the feeling that someone is lurking and watching as the four friends and the two backpackers explore the farm and its closely guarded secrets. Naturally they split into three couples to seek out souvenirs, as this has never got anyone into danger in a horror flick, and naturally Charlie takes the opportunity to put in an appearance. Speaking of Charlie, the dude sure is one massively sized specimen; the makeup team get two thumbs up for the whole package, a creature out of your worst nightmare.
Gore hounds are going to be baying at the moon over the kills in this trip to funhouse horrors. We're talking inventive, no holding back on the carnage, in your face death at the farm that dripped blood. Sun owns a special effects company that is perhaps the best in the World, definitely in Australia; hence the high standard of the effects being put on, including one that will have most males in the audience cringing. T&A is however on the low scale of perving, we are treated to Allira Jaques in her bra and knickers and the gals get the slightly porky Donkey in the nude, uhmm dig on in their ladies.
In a surprise for me at least we do get some horror royalty in the movie. Bill Moseley, a bunch of substandard Rob Zombie movies, plays John Wilson and surprisingly Kane Hodder, Jason Friday the 13th movies, has the sort of role that is either simply additional fodder or "hey we got Hodder write a part for him". Additional we get Tara Reid, Sharknado flicks, who proves once and for all she can't act. The locals are holding their own, but don't expect any awards or anything on the acting.
One thing that Sun handles really well is people in peril who don't get out of Dodge as soon as the ominous music starts. Weirdly Natasha keeps having "bad feelings" about the deal but pretty much no one is listening. Anyways when the blood splatters its happening too fast for anyone to do a runner and they are so isolated from other people ergo there will be little chance of rescue, so survival mode right, not going to give away spoilers folks. But for once I was pretty much content with white folk in peril hanging around and not making logically decisions.
Sorry going to extend this a little but have to make mention of Sun's ability to plot foreshadow without it standing out like dog's bollocks or taking the audience out of the movie. We get plenty of road kill, you don't have to think about that too much - hey Skippy doesn't do well on Aussie outback roads, but Sun is hinting at what is to come. Also, and I really dug this we get a shoot of a moth caught in a web, like Jason and crew are, and later a spider does the spider thing, which will of course be emulated.
Well I know this movie isn't going to appeal to everyone, far too much in terms of death and destruction for that, but if you don't mind a bit of gore with your watching pleasure then you are in for a good time. The characters are likeable, as opposed to the usual hat full of arseholes Hollywood dishes up in terms of pampered twenty somethings, and our psycho is well past formable into the realms of terrifying. Strap on your power packs kids Chris Sun has brought the 1980s slasher movie to a modern audience, dig on in if you like Halloween or Friday the 13th I'm recommending this one. Get ready for a Farm visit that you aren't likely to forget, Charlie will ensure that.