SEPTEMBER 16, 2010
For a while, I thought The Outback (aka Prey, and also, for some reason, Dreamtime’s Over), was going to rise above and be better than most “6 kids go to a remote place and die” movies, because they took three cars instead of the usual one, wasted no time in getting to the part we care about, and the villain was not a redneck or random family of mutants, but an aboriginal shaman who commanded snakes and could make zombies. Points for originality!
But it all falls apart, largely due to the inane twist at the end and a near total lack of believable actions on the part of the characters, and I say we talk about that first so you can read for a bit before I spoil the ending. Granted, I don’t know what it’s like to get lost in the outback, to watch one of my friend’s heads get crushed, or run afoul of a shaman who looks like an older Rob Zombie, but I’m guessing even in those unusual circumstances, I’d still care if one of my friends died, especially if it was one I was sleeping with. But no one seems to care much when anyone dies or gets attacked, which is funny the first time but just plain annoying by the end. At one point a zombie grabs one of the two remaining folks, and the other just nonchalantly stands there watching for a few seconds before finally deciding to help.
And then there’s the twist. One of the things I liked about the movie was that the bad guy seemed to be killing these poor sods just for the hell of it. There was no trespassing on his property scene, or anything like that – he just starts commanding snakes and what not. But no, as it turns out, he was specifically after the Final Girl, because 20 years ago, her brother ran him over. In keeping with horror movie fashion, he kills everyone except the one he had the beef with, which is fine, but what the fuck? Was he just sitting around for 20 years hoping she’d pass through again? Real shit luck on her part. It’s not as bad as Spike or whatever (where the villain was planting traps hoping to get her), but come on! Revenge scenarios only really work if the villain actively goes after the folks he’s seeking to hurt – if they just happen to cross his path, then it’s just ludicrous.
Also his powers are a bit confusing. He’s a ghost, or at least can project his spirit or something, and he can command snakes, and also make people rise from the dead, except they come back looking like the T-1000 at the end of T2, with half burnt orange lava faces. Why? I have no idea. Also he can apparently screw with compasses, rendering our heroes completely lost. Again, points for originality, but these things just don’t fit together. It’s like the time I didn’t have a Halloween costume so I just bought some shit from the dollar store: a witch hat, some sort of door hanger thing that I carried like a purse, and crepe paper. Yeah, no one else at the party had the same costume, but why would they? It was fucking stupid!
I was slightly amused by the fact that he was a wizard of sorts, because a while back in my review for The Woods I pondered a horror movie in which a wizard killed our heroes instead of whatever you expected would happen after a generic opening (so in this case, I figured they’d break down and run afoul of a mutant kangaroo or something), so that was kind of funny. Also, I will admit I didn’t see the ending coming, which found our two surviving women inexplicably become lesbian lovers, despite the fact that they both started their journey with boyfriends.
There was apparently even more lesbian action in the original cut, but it was removed, because who in their right mind would want to see two attractive women taking a shower together while making out? There are half orange zombie folks to not attack! This is addressed, and the absent director is mocked, in the disc’s sole extra, a 20 minute making of that combines on-set interviews with the actors with candid, obviously post-initial release interviews with the writer and producers. One producer also tells some of the story that this movie was sort of based upon, where two Americans went into the outback and disappeared. Their car was found 3 weeks later without any signs of trouble, and then many years later their bodies were found, roughly 1000 miles apart, back in America. Creepy, right? Too bad the movie wasn’t.
With a few friends and a fine assortment of beers and pizza-based items, this movie would be a hoot. It’s reasonably well paced, has some minor Evil Dead-esque dismemberment, and out of nowhere lesbianism to sweeten the deal. But it’s just such a ridiculous concept, and our characters barely act like human beings, which makes it a bit hard to swallow. The ADR syncing is atrocious too – I’ve seen movies with the actors getting dubbed in other languages that looked better than this. Try harder, everyone!
What say you?