Most of the reviews I read of this movie were positive – about how it was a slow burn, old style ghost story chiller, about how it wasn’t afraid to give the bare bones of a story without a lot of extraneous context or exposition about what’s going on.
And that’s all true, but there’s one fatal flaw that had me wanting to reach for the remote and watch something else far too many times. Meandering and leisurely paced is fine, especially for the tone and genre it was going for, but director and co-writer Donna McRae takes waaaaaaaaay tooooooooo looooooong to get anywhere.
At what felt like the ten minute mark, not a single thing had happened. A young woman, Lucy (Adele Perovic), arrives as a remote AirBnB cottage she apparently doesn’t want to be at, unpacks some of her stuff, meets the fussy but friendly property owner host and sits around. For the entire running time we get innumerable ‘mood’ shots of the bush outside, insects crawling slowly over leaves minding their own business, the camera looking upward through the trees, etc. We understand… it’s isolated. Just get on with it.
There are phone calls from some woman imploring Lucy to stay where she is, she’ll be safe there, she (the woman on the other end of the phone) will get there as soon as she can. Is Lucy running from a violent partner? Criminals? We never find out, and it’s to McRae and her co-writer Michael Vale’s credit that they don’t give us much to go on.
But in order to earn the right to be so sparse around the edges, it needs a lot more in the central story to grab you. I might be exaggerating because of how bored I was, but I feel like the whole running time contained a full half hour of Lucy putting on her hoodie, walking out into the bush with a sullen look on her face and then walking back inside again.
It’s at least half an hour before anything obviously supernatural happens, and it takes until the climactic ten minutes for any action and any real scary movie terror to bubble up.
You couldn’t say there’s any real acting talent here because Perovic has absolutely nothing to do but sit around miserably, talking to nobody, occasionally drinking wine and raising her voice mildly with the woman who keeps calling her.
You’ll read terms like ‘suspenseful’ and ‘slow burn’ in reviews, but they’re just Australian film critics who want to support local production. It’s slickly and professionally made, but it’ll put you to sleep long before it frightens you.
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