Dir: Alister Grierson
Star: Ben O’Toole, Meg Fraser, Caroline Craig, Matthew Sunderland
This is an odd little film, which starts off with a bank robbery in Boise, Idaho, and ends with a man trying to kill a rural family of cannibals in Finland. Oh, and it’s neither American nor Finnish, being made in Australia. I can only imagine the pitch made sense at the time. Probably towards the end of a session of quaffing mid-strength beers. Anyway. The hero is Rex (O’Toole), a veteran who happens to find himself in the middle of a bank robbery. Using his army skills, he ends the threat, but an innocent bystander dies, and he gets eight years in jail. On release, he wants to escape his past, and goes to the spit-ball determined location of Finland.
Barely has he arrived when he is kidnapped by a local family who, in the most literal sense, live off tourists. He loses a leg and is left, dangling in the basement pending further consumption. Fortunately, the daughter, Alia (Fraser), is not into the whole cannibal thing, and only stays out of a sense of duty to her younger brother. Rex eventually convinces her to release him so they can both leave. Keyword there is “eventually”, because there is a lot of time spent with him (again, literally) hanging around. Livening things up, is the presence of his alter ego, an unfiltered asshole, who has typically been urging Rex on to make the most chaotic choices possible, going at least as far back as the bank robbery.
I feel there are the elements of a good film in here. It’s the way in which they are put together that’s the problem. For example, though the film opens with the robbery, we don’t initially see how it ended, or why Rex was found culpable for the resulting death. This kinda matters, and the way it’s concealed is both irritating, and feels a bit of a cheat. We also spend far too long stuck in the basement, with Rex dangling like a one-legged human piñata. While I like the concept of his internal monologue taking human form, it’s an idea that’s likely overplayed during this section of the movie. You’re basically hanging out with that unfiltered asshole, and it gets old, quickly.
The whole Finland thing is odd too. Looking at the cast list, I couldn’t see any Finnish names, and outside of some tunes on the soundtrack, there’s not much local flavour. You wonder if the makers chose the country by lobbing a spitball at a map as well. This overall feels not dissimilar to The Price We Pay, just with a less sure hand on both the script and direction. Despite solid work by O’Toole in both halves of his performance, this only comes to life sporadically. I did genuinely laugh as the one-legged Rex, with a golf club as an impromptu replacement limb, stood at the bottom of the cellar stairs and took his first step up. Cut to caption: 23 MINUTES LATER. If only they’d done the same for his time in the basement.