In 2007 we got two outback psycho movies with Gone disappearing into the shadow of Greg Mclean's hugely successful Wolf Creek. Having now had the privilege of watching both movies it's readily apparent why Wolf Creek was a commercial success and Gone tanked both at the box office and on DVD. In simple terms Greg Mclean knew exactly what he was doing and turned in a horror movie, while Gone Director Ringan Ledwidge tried for a quid each way and turned in a mess.
Talk us through itbr> Young English backpacker Alex arrives in Sydney Australia looking to hook up with his girlfriend Sophie in Byron Bay. Naturally he misses his bus, the Lonely Planet guide not withstanding, and heads into Sin City for a night at cheap digs. Unfort for Alex, who would have to be the world's most na´ve Brit backpacker, he is taking under the wing of Taylor, a yank out for a night on the town. The next morning, after a night of wine, women, song, and no doubt Lonely Planet, Alex wakes up in a local park with Taylor taking a Polaroid of him in a compromising position with a young lady. This never happened in my wild and unruly youth by the way, maybe I should have been packing a Lonely Planet guide or something.
Taylor offers to drive Alex up to Byron Bay and the two new friends head on up the highway to almost homoerotic-ville. Two dudes splashing each other in the surf isn't exactly hetero central here folks, I was fearing Greco-Roman wrestling was the next thing on the agenda! If wondering yes I'm trying to flesh out the plot here with superfluous drivel.
Eventually all roads lead to Byron Bay, Alex and Taylor hook up with Sophie, and somehow Alex is driving them to Longreach and their destinies. Along the way things take a turn into psycho street and Taylor proves to have more depth, be that in a dark murky way, than we initially thought. Can Alex and Sophie extract themselves from the psychological web Taylor weaves before it's too late?
Ready to check out Lonely Planet?
Reviewbr> Both Wolf Creek and Gone spend a lot of running time introducing their victims to the audience, and in both cases this is slightly too much run time as neither group is overly interesting to be honest. Mclean does keep an ace up his sleave with Mick, wonderfully realised by John Jarrett, introduced in the final act, while Ringan Ledwidge is forced by script requirements to introduce Taylor almost immediately. The inherent horror in Mclean's movie is heightened by the unknowable Mick while Ledwidge's Taylor is simply not believable. Guess the old adage familiarity breeds contempt applies here.
Okay enough of the comparisons to Wolf Creek, review coming in due course folks, lets try and break down the mess that is Gone, a difficult job in itself as bugger all happens in the later movie to be honest.
Crucial to Ledwidge's plot is the Polaroid Taylor takes of Alex and "friend" near the start of the movie. It defines their relationship and adds some much needed tension to proceedings. Alex hasn't told Sophie about his night in Sydney and is at pains to ensure she doesn't get a look at the holiday snap shot. Ultimate this character flaw will be Alex's undoing, and when he does tell Sophie about the photo it will lead directly to his fate. The trouble with this, and like Wolf Creek Gone is loosely based around a real life occurrence in Australia, is the audience are well aware of where things are headed. Ledwidge is unable to add the necessary plot twist to rock the viewer, hence Gone devolves quickly into a by the numbers murder portrayal, with the only interest being when exactly Sophie will catch up with developments the audience is already painfully aware of.
Where things go completely off the rails, for audience members managing to stay awake through the first two acts, is the switch from a less than promising psychological thriller to an out and out sub standard horror movie in the final twenty or so minutes. Writers James Watkins and Andrew Upton are singularly unable to write in a motivation for Taylor, he remains enigmatic and totally uninteresting through out, and the character is never seen as menacing. Any decent Down Under bloke would have smacked him one in the mouth and told him to piss off pretty early in the piece. Guess that's why we are viewed as uncouth colonials by the English, whereas the Pommie backpacker is viewed as something of a mug by Aussies. Mick Taylor would have cleaned this lot up before morning smoko and not have broken a sweat to be honest.
Somehow Director Ledwidge manage's to make the Aussie bush appear boring, an achievement in it's self
Director Ledwidge, perhaps rightfully fearing his name was going to be associated with a complete lemon, decides to go all out horror in the final stanza. Unfortunately for Ledwidge, besides a slight bit of tension as Sophie tries to avoid the clutches of Taylor, it isn't working and quite frankly I was stifling laughter as Taylor gets bonked on the head at one point. Ledwidge hasn't given any thought to building toward the horror elements and clearly doesn't know how the dark genre works. You get the feeling the film maker needed to round things out with a flourish after boring the knickers off his audience and decided to just go with some gore, of the light acceptable variety. I was left wondering just exactly what I had seen and whether or not they should have re-shoot the ending to at least keep things consistent.
When you have a completely uninteresting villain, a movie that meanders rather than having a clear vision, and victims making stupid decisions (hello Scots girl at party, do this people need a bomb under them before realising they are in deep doggy doo), you really don't have much to offer an audience.
Ledwidge does have a few things working for him, but you are going to have to sift a lot of dirt to get at the gold. The long shots showing the isolation of the outback was well visualised, and hey unlike Baz, Ledwidge didn't need to resort to CGI. One of these days I will give up making snide remarks about Australia, but that movie deserves to be picked to death in the meantime. Back to the meat and three veg, the camp fire scene with Taylor and Sophie does drip some tension, specially as we know Taylor is a light sleeper. And the disintegration of Sophie and Alex's relationship through paranoia, lies, and Taylor's manipulations is pretty solid. And that's about all she wrote on the good side of the guide.
Shaun Evans (Alex) comes across as a complete tool and irritating through out the course of the movie. It could well be due to the script that pretty much earmarks the character for a demise due to personality flaws of course. Scott Mechlowicz (Taylor) gives us one of the less threatening psychos to ever grace our screens, and heck he irritated me as well. Amelia Warner (Sophie) simply has to make do with a poorly written character and go all pommie girly on us, slightly less irritating than the male leads.
Amelia Warner gives a quick boob flash at one point, and that's about it on the T&A front. Gals dialling in for rugged outback blocks showing off the abs are in for a rude shock, there aren't any. Sorry Ladies, I didn't make this movie and can feel your pain.
David Bridie apparently did a score that I steadfastly refused to take any notice of. Didn't impact me in anyway, ergo white noise to fill in the non talking parts. We do get a pretty decent assortment of pop numbers however with the highlight for mine being "Throwing It Away" by My Friend the Chocolate Cake.
Summary Executionbr> Gone spends a lot of time getting us to a preordained conclusion that can perhaps be seen from about the mid mark of this plodding and overly ambitious movie. Sure I got Director Ledwidge trying to focus on the psychological aspects rather than the violence, at least till the final act, but it just didn't ring true and at no stage did I feel anything approaching concern for either Alex or Sophie. With no vested interest in the characters I had exactly zero interest in the outcome. A distraction that should be saved for rainy Sunday afternoons rather than being thrown on Friday nights.
One of the strange things I've started to note is that English Directors cannot make decent horror movies in Australia. Considering the excellent recent outpouring of dark genre films from the U.K you would think a Brit would be able to take advantage of the local scenery to construct something devastatingly good, looking at you Neil Marshal, but after a couple of failures I'm starting to wonder if you need to be an Aussie to make a decent horror flick in this country. Not ready to make that a globally binding statement just yet, but something to keep an eye on.
No recommendation on Gone, the movie is an exercise in staying awake to a less than inspiring resolution. We have seen this movie before, done infinitely better, so there's really no reason to dial into the film. If Ledwidge's white elephant appears on your television, then make yourself gone, you wont regret the decision.
ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...br> br> Give it a miss and go catch Wolf Creek instead.