aaron glenane, aaron pedersen, abe forsythe, adelaide clemens, ashleigh cummings, ben howling, ben young, bianca bradley, cargo, carlo ledesma, damien power, Daniel Armstrong, emma booth, essie davis, hounds of love, ian meadows, jennifer kent, killing ground, little monsters, luke shanahan, martin freeman, noah wiseman, rabbit, robin mcleavy, roger scott, sean byrne, simone landers, stephen curry, Tarnation, The Babadook, the furies, The Loved Ones, the marshes, the tunnel, Wyrmwood, xavier samuel, yolanda ramke
As we encroach the end of another decade I felt that it was best to review the best Australian horror films from the past ten years. Australia continues to make a significant impact on the genre with its unique antipodean perspective on the world and the darker side of humanity, which I’m hoping the following list lays testament to.
The Loved Ones (2010)
Directed by: Sean Byrne
Byrne may have only directed two feature films thus far including The Devil’s Candy which is equally brilliant and keeps this resident surgeon awaiting what he will serve up next. For the list though, I have chosen his debut feature, purely for the way it perfectly encapsulates the insane drive of love, revenge, and proms. The cast (Robin McLeavy and Xavier Samuel in particular) are amazing and deliver on point performances that rip the heart of romance apart.
The Tunnel (2011)
Directed by: Carlo Ledesma
Notable for its distribution method, through BitTorrent’s free internet downloading platform which provided the film to a much wider audience. The Tunnel is a compelling found footage film that is clearly produced by a highly-skilled and knowledgeable team who manage to wrangle out every ounce of tension and animosity through this low-budget feature that follows a camera crew investigating the disappearance of homeless people in the hidden tunnels beneath Sydney.
The Babadook (2013)
Directed by: Jennifer Kent
Despite dividing the horror-loving audience, this film took out our own poll for Best Horror film 2013 and for good reason as it tackles a sometimes taboo subject in society: depression, grief, and children with learning difficulties. The beautiful blend of stop-animation and stark reality ignites the emotions on screen and ably played by Essie Davies and Noah Wiseman.
Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014)
Directed by: Kiah Roache-Turner
Take two brothers invested in a balls-to-the wall, action-packed zombie flick with pure bloody Aussie adrenaline pumping through its veins and you get this awesome fun ride in Wyrmwood. Such was its success on home soil and overseas that it’s little wonder that there has been talks of a sequel and/or tv series. If it does pick up, I’m sure it will be a glorious bloodbath of euphoria.
Directed by: Ben Young
Some may argue that this is more of a crime thriller, but the sheer terror that Ashleigh Cummings portrays as kidnapped victim Vicki, who is tormented by a disturbing Stephen Curry as John White. His wife and lover (Emma Booth) hangs in the balance of right and wrong, as she longs to please her husband, but struggles to adhere to his desires. The trio of performers are equally astounding, propelling the drama forward to a climactic conclusion that is both deeply satisfying and harrowing.
Directed by: Damien Power
Damien Power’s direction shines the dark light on outback Australia that is gut-wrenchingly painful to endure. As we witness the destruction of the family unit at the hands of two deranged individuals in German (Aaron Pedersen) and Chook (Aaron Glenane) the audience is left pondering what is left to fight for when faced with a battle for survival.
The Marshes (2017)
Directed by: Roger Scott
In another tale of survival, The Marshes casts three biologists in the remote marshlands of Australia in what can be described as an environmental horror. Roger Scott tackles a topical subject and projects it into an untapped landscape that deserves to be displayed in celluloid form. It’s a powerful way to promote the true horrors of the world through the eyes of fantastical horror blended with folklore and mythology, and I can only hope that this film gets a decent release on demand and in front of a wider audience to spread this message further.
Directed by: Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke
The strength of Australian storytelling is clearly evident in this post-apocalyptic tale that began as a short film in Tropfest before being crafted into a feature length story. Its genius casting in Martin Freeman as the lead helps elevate the film for a wider audience, and is further enriched by the Australian landscape, a beautiful performance from Simone Landers, and a refreshing take on a tired genre that pulls at the heartstrings.
Directed by: Luke Shanahan
I’m a sucker for psychological horror and this narrative delightfully casts you down the rabbit hole as Maude (Adelaide Clemens) goes in search of her missing sister using that quirky psychic connection that often occurs in twins. This slow burn may not suit everyone’s tastes but I enjoyed the journey all the same, and believe Shanahan has a gift in accessing the recesses of a disconcerted mind.
Directed by: Daniel Armstrong
What can be described as an Australian love song to Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, Armstrong taps into a wild, strange, and deranged underworld. The off-beat, quirky humour is a perfect vessel to showcase Australia’s knack for macabre and fantastical stories and propels the audience through a delightful visual feast.
Directed by: Tony D’Aquino
The deadliest game pitting women in a barren world to outwit, outlast each other using brutal methods throughout their ordeal. D’Aquino is not shy in delivering a bloody battle royale to cast his perception of the devastation that women are subjected to using the male gaze that society had come accustomed to. It’s a savage portrayal with plenty of punch to keep viewers squirming at the edge of their seat.
Directed by: Abe Forsythe
Rounding out our bloody dozen is this delightful tale of down and out loser, musician Dave who learns that he must grow up fast when he attends his nephews school excursion to a farm during a zombie outbreak. Forsythe handles kids, animals, and zombies with enough care and dedication that proves his a natural in his game which belies his sophomore attempt in the director’s chair. Filled with pain and laughter this is a cracker of a movie that is amplified by Lupita Nyong’o’s performance as kick-ass teacher, Miss Caroline.
- Saul Muerte