Red Billabong | Review

It’s about time we had a good creature feature out in the cinemas again. Having said creature feature an Australian movie is even better. RED BILLABONG is set in the Australian outback and incorporates Aboriginal Dreamland into the story. RED BILLABONG had a limited run back in late August and is now touring the country. At the end of the article you will find all the details on upcoming regional screenings. I also suggest you hit up the RED BILLABONG website or Facebook page for further information. RED BILLABONG released from Pinnacle Films, is rated MA15+ and runs for 113mins. Kernel Jordan reviews this one. Enjoy…………all the best…………..JK.

BY JORDAN DODD

B-GRADE CREATURE FEATURE

Though billed as a B-grade horror/thriller featuring a rogue crocodile, RED BILLABONG offers some genuinely creepy moments and conjures some serious tension at times. It is far from a brilliant movie, but given what the filmmakers were aiming for, they have done a solid job in creating a uniquely Australian movie.

It stars two HOME AND AWAY actors, Dan Ewing and Tim Pocock, who both deliver solid performances as two estranged brothers. The chemistry (or lack of it) is apt for the first act of the movie, but as it moves forward the two begin to rekindle their relationship despite many differences of opinion. Their main disagreement involves the land that their grandfather has left to Tristan (Tim Pocock). Nick (Dan Ewing) drives out to the house from the city, hoping that there isn’t any bad news.

 

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ABORIGINAL LANDS

Upon finding out about the grandfather’s letter, Nick immediately wants to honour their grandfather’s wishes, which is to donate the land to the local Aboriginal tribe, suggesting a link between their grandfather and the tribe. We also learn at the start of the film that their grandfather was looking for something important in the bush, which seems to be the chief reason why their grandfather wants the land to go to the locals.

Initially, Tristan and Nick aren’t in agreement – Tristan has had offers for the land by a seedy developer (Felix Williamson delivering a creepy performance) and all he can see is the dollar signs. Nick isn’t so sure about the credibility of these potential buyers, and takes it upon himself to investigate. The following scenes offer some decent tension, as Nick finds what he thinks is the answer to the strange sounds the brothers have been hearing in the bush after the sun sets.

 

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DREAMTIME

Tristan’s drug-dealer friend BJ (Ben Chisholm) arrives with his girlfriend Anya (an impressive, inexperienced Sophie Don), along with two other girls that he seems just as interested in, if not more so. However, after a drug-fueled party one of the girls goes for a swim, and after a few hours the rest of the crew begin to worry that she is missing. When the group go to look for her, the atmosphere is thick as we wonder what the hell is making these noises. What on earth could possess those piercing red eyes?

Adding further to the mystery is the appearance of Tristan and Nick’s estranged father Sam (John Reynolds, over-acting just the right amount), who doesn’t seem to care about his familial bonds; he seems more interested in the money that can be made. But how? What exactly is making these noises, and how does Sam intend to profit from the situation?

The film starts at a slow pace, but it steadily gains momentum as we learn more about the story and the characters, some of which are quite three-dimensional. The group stumbles upon a creature of some sort that is lurking within the bush, making for some tense scenes, and it is a very nice touch that this creature is a part of Aboriginal dreamtime stories. As this beast sucks the souls out of unwitting female victims, matters become serious as it becomes clear that the creature must be destroyed.

 

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MORE IS LESS

Unfortunately, this is where RED BILLABONG falters in a big way. For the first two parts of the film we don’t get to see much of the creature. The less-is-more approach is used well, but during the final act we see far too much. We see the creature up close, and it doesn’t look good. Keeping it in the shadows may have been the better option, as when we get a good look at it, the special effects work make the STAR WARS prequels look amazing.

Incorporating Aboriginal tribes and dreamtime stories into RED BILLABONG is a nice touch and adds another layer to the film, again establishing it as unmistakably Australian. The acting throughout the film is surprisingly good, with very few awkwardly acted moments. However, the actors don’t have the best script to work with, and while it is funny in small doses, for the most part the script is poorly written. this is responsible for many awkward scenes, as the dialogue just doesn’t seem realistic in any way.

 

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IN CONCLUSION:

Overall this surprised me. I was expecting an average movie with some questionable acting, but this isn’t the case at all. The soundtrack is very Australian and some of the cinematography is quite beautiful. Despite the mostly inexperienced actors, this movie delivers a solid thriller. While a little predictable RED BILLABONG offers some suspense filled moments and a story that carries some weight, especially due to the connection with Aboriginal tribes. Additionally, too many Australian and New Zealand actors are forced to put on American accents to appeal to a wider market, RED BILLABONG in that respect is a refreshing change of pace. It isn’t perfect, but it is far from the average movie that I was expecting.

CINEMAS STILL TO SCREEN RED BILLABONG. Please note you will need to confirm before rocking up.

 

3 and a Half Pops

 

 

YOUR REVIEWER:

Jordan Dodd is an aspiring novelist hailing from Adelaide, Australia. His first book is a chronicle of his experiences in a rehab centre that was more of a cult than anything else, and his goal is to finish it and pitch it to someone who matters. It can be found here. He also enjoys writing about film, which is probably his biggest obsession (apart from writing). When not writing for Salty Popcorn Jordan has his own website – he can be contacted via www.epilepticmoondancer.net