Friday, March 18, 2011

Vamp or Not? Primal

This was a 2010 Australian feature directed by Josh Reed and I have not decided to look at this under a ‘Vamp or Not?’ due to the fact that one of the actors is Krew Boylan and it isn’t often I see a Boylan in the credits!

That of course leaves the sharp pointy teeth and blood covered mouth on the cover art of the UK DVD release. This drew me in and, honestly, the film ended up an intriguing watch that merged genres like crazy. There is the teen aspect (6 friends out in the outback), there is a ten little Indians aesthetic, then there is the turning into a creature aspect that has the overtones of vampire and running zombie/infected, finally there is a monster aspect that was bizarre, almost Lovecraftian with a tentacle aspect that fulfils the aspects of some of the darker Japanese fare.

rock painting
It starts 12000 years ago with a man painting on the rock face, eventually as credits roll, we see a man approach him – a low rumbled growl sounding. We do not see the attack but we do see the spray of blood that outlines the victim’s hand adding a macabre print to the painting. Time moves forward until today. A flash of teeth invade the dreams of Anja (Zoe Tuckwell-Smith) as she bolts awake.

more recent history
There are six in the vehicle, Anja, Kris (Rebejah Foord), the flirtatious Mel (Krew Boylan) and her boyfriend Chad (Lindsay Farris), the group clown Warren (Damien Freeleagus) and Dace (Wil Traval). Dace is the alpha male and also the one wanting to study a rock painting for his thesis. The painting was discovered by a relative of Anja’s one hundred and twenty years ago. When mentioned we get a flash to him killing his daughter who has sprouted demonic looking teeth.

They find the mountain and a tunnel that leads to the valley. They are passing through the tunnel but Anja starts to freak out. We discover later that her ex-boyfriend was a sadist who locked her in a cellar for a week. She stumbles, cuts her arm and blacks out – the spilled blood starts a reaction in the cave that leads to something being ejaculated into a billabong. It is decided that the gang will go through the tunnel and Anja will drive round the mountain and meet them.

fanged rabbit
Weird things happen as they set up camp and look at the rock painting. A plastic bottle is set upon by tiny insects that eat it. Why do the insects eat plastic? So that they will eat the rubber of the car tyres and prevent the guys escaping later – this part seemed a bit contrived to be honest. Kris is bitten and they kill the culprit – it is a rabbit with a face full of fangs.

losing teeth
That night Mel goes skinny dipping in the billabong and becomes covered in leeches. They get them off her but she becomes feverish. Then her teeth start falling out but as the insects ate the tyres of their vehicle they are stuck. In the morning she has reverted to a primal state and attacks the friends. They try and catch her but fail. They realise she is scared of fire. When she, later, kills warren we see her gnawing at his centre but she is actually biting him in half. Both his legs and those of a kangaroo are thrown into the passage and seem to dissolve.

a primal Dace
Later Dace is infected also – and I mention this for several reasons. They are infected by whatever was injected into the billabong (Dace ends up in accidentally) and not through either the leeches or a bite from an infected creature. Also, whilst they seem without reason, Mel watches over Dace as he turns, protecting him from the others. Mel and Dace have a dominance tussle and they still have a sex drive – we see Dace rutting with her. Mel seems scared of the passage but it seems more a ploy to make that the only option for the survivors.

a primal Mel
I won’t spoil what is in there (though tentacles come into play) and what it wants but clearly it put the mutagen in the billabong and uses the turned ones as its 'agents' in the valley. So are they vampires? I am not convinced. Whilst they have ‘turned’ as such (indeed the word turn is used) and sprouted fangs, as well as gaining massive strength, they seem to be almost worker creatures of the thing in the passage. They eat flesh, we see Mel eat the dead rabbit, but when she eats through Warren it seems less for sustenance and more to give food to the passage creature.

All in all, it was an interesting film but it isn’t vamp, indeed it is more on the infected end of the zombie spectrum – though perhaps it lends the creatures a little more purpose. The imdb page is here.


Jenn said...

I would say 'no' as well on the vamp tip, Taliesin. I got more of a zombie/infected vibe with shades of THE RUINS as well. And as for the ending and the creature and all, I won't spoil it for your readers since you took the liberty not to, but the last ten minutes ruined (for me) what was a pretty solid atavistic foray into the attractive twenty-somethings go into the woods and run afoul of something evil subgenre. Oh well.

Great post, as usual :)

Taliesin_ttlg said...

it did seem odd - but our lips are sealed :)

thanks for stoppng by Jenn, always appreciated.

David Lee said...

I saw this at the HP Lovecraft Film Festival in 2010. It was entertaining once. In a theater full of folks with similar low expectations. :)

I'd say say "no" to the infected being vamps. They're tools of the thing in the cave.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi David, I can imagine it would be a good one to watch at a festival.