THRILLER; 1hr 44min
STARRING: Martin Freeman, Susie Porter, Simone Landers
Freeman stares-down disaster
Whatever you expect from the disaster zone of a zombie movie—a ravaged cityscape, for instance, its cluster of survivors holed up in a convenient shopping mall while herky-jerky virals do their ravenously mangy thing outside—the Australian Outback as a setting for one is probably not on your list. In fact, co-directors Yolanda Ramke (who wrote the screenplay) and Ben Howling are onto something with their atmospheric roll of the dice: the beauty of the far-flung landscape lies in a vast isolation that in equal measures is dramatic, desolate and frightening.
For Andy (Freeman), gutted by what befalls his wife (Porter), surviving with his baby daughter is a twinned strategy of not falling victim to the sickness that has blighted the country and defying the hostile terrain’s all but overwhelming odds. Andy is the kind of nuggetty stayer you’d want on hand in a crisis. If anyone can prevail, it may very well be him. But in an anarchic wilderness with the clock ticking on his own mortality, one man can only do so much.
What becomes of Andy, and of Thoomi (natural first-timer Landers), the young Aboriginal girl with whom he throws in his lot, is as bizarre and terrible as any full-throttle horror show, although not in any formulaic sense: the menace they’re facing is by no means only from the infected. And when every fresh development is a potentially deadly threat, salvation can seem as much an abstract concept as an innocence irretrievably lost.