Ahhh, Australia. The only other country that can produce “Hillbilly Horror” with the same amount of over-the-top insanity as the good ol’ US of A. Sure, other countries have produced some decent backwoods horror flicks (France has Frontier(s), Canada has Rituals and several others) – but the vast majority of these types of pictures come from America or Australia. Big countries with lots & lots of open space. While 2005′s Wolf Creek made a terrifying name for itself (rightly deserved – it’s one painfully intense picture), it was far more of a serious film than most American hillbilly horror. Wolf Creek was meant to get under your skin, not gross you out and tickle your funny bone at the same time.
Enter 2007′s Storm Warning – an exceptionally well-filmed, well-made, and entertaining hillbilly gorefest with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. Probably via a fish-hook. This is one heck of a treat for anyone looking for something just a little bit… more… out of indie horror.
The film stars Nadia Farès as Pia - an exotically beautiful, French-speaking Moroccan in Australia (!!!) and Robert Taylor (Agent Jones from the Matrix flicks!) as her Aussie husband, Rob. Rob and Pia are a well-to-do couple who intended to spend a vacation day fishing out on the gorgeous Australian coast… only a storm rushes in and Rob takes the long way around to get them back to shore. Of course, this action strands them on a remote coastal island, which a group of wealth-hating, low-education, illegal-marijuana-growing Aussie rednecks calls home. Jimmy, Brett, and Poppy (see? They even have the same kinds of hillbilly names as us!!!) are none-too-happy with the interlopers, setting up a deranged, violent, and nasty series of confrontations.
If this sounds pretty much like any other backwoods horror… you’re right. The differences are what makes Storm Warning stand out. The location is unique – when’s the last time you saw a cabin-in-the-woods horror flick take place a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Pacific Ocean? You haven’t – that’s when. There are no woods to hide in, no trees to climb – the action here all takes place in Poppy’s home and around the open, salt-aired fields of mangroves. MANGROVES! Aussie freakin’ mangroves!!! The cinematography is light-years better than most films of this nature – including some absolutely spectacular storms as a backdrop to the action. And the story is tight – no useless characters, no plot holes to nowhere. Just a very tight little tale about 2 people fighting to survive a very ugly situation.
What’s better than the quality film-making? A female character who doesn’t suck. While Storm Warning contains a questionably sexual attempted-rape scenario (did they really need to try to make the scene “hot” – all I could see was someone trying to rape Madonna in her “Like a Prayer” video… no joke – see pic??), the vast majority of the writing gets things right where Pia is concerned. Rob is no mindless male idiot, but he’s ill-equipped to deal with the madness once Poppy and his good ol’ boys start to wreak havoc. Pia on the other hand goes on the offensive, including one of the most imaginative (if highly improbable) attempts at thwarting sexual assault in the history of film. Once Pia has the upper hand, you kinda feel sorry for the sorry slobs about to suffer.
Kinda. But not really.
While there’s really nothing new here – you’ve seen most of this before in some fashion or another, Storm Warning is still a heck of a fun romp. Check it out for the strong female protagonist, laugh at the rural Aussie absurdity, and then relax and enjoy some gory fun. It sure as heck beats sitting through another dull, Hollywood remake!