Dark Place Movie Review
Written by Becky Roberts
Released by Noble Savage Pictures
Written and directed by Kodie Bedford, Perun Bonser, Rob Braslin, Liam Phillips, Bjorn Stewart
2019, 75 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Frightfest UK Premiere on 29th August 2020
Nelson Baker as Jamie
Katherine Beckett as Scout
Shakira Clanton as Jodie
Bernard Curry as Barry
Jolie Everett as Isabelle
A ‘first of its kind’ doesn’t bless the horror genre all that often, so when one comes around we naturally want to sit-up and listen… and watch. Enter Dark Place, a 75-minute, indigenous-themed anthology; a quintet of shorts that captures the zeitgeist of the post-colonial Australian Aboriginal experience through horror and fantasy.
The five tales, by five Aboriginal filmmakers, collectively traverse the genre to explore the impact of their colonialism-rooted history on their people – female exploitation, segregation and isolation, racial discrimination and gothic tradition – through the vehicles of vampires, witches, the supernatural and even zom-com splatter. It’s all in there, folks, and comes together to form an effectively all-embracing compilation of delectably dark, twisted tales.
Commissioned by the ABC and Screen Australia and having received its world premiere at the Sydney Film Festival last summer, Dark Place adds to the scarce existence of indigenous Australian horrors, most famous of which is Tracey Moffat's 1993 Bedevil. And, like the best horrors that hold a mirror up to society – your Invasion of the Body Snatchers, your They Lives, your Videodromes and your Get Outs – the terror here is not only what you see at face value but also in the social subtext of the filmmakers’ message.
Kodie Bedford's unflinching revenge shocker Scout sees a down-and-out woman abducted from her home and thrown into the cruel and decrepit world of sex slavery, which she must fight tooth and nail to escape from to avoid a dire fate.
In Liam Phillip's eerily sinister Foe, a chronic insomniac wakes up with mud on her feet and blood on her clothes, but no memory of the night's events. Afraid that something dark lurks within her, she is forced to question her sanity and chain the inner demon that terrorizes her at night.
Rob Braslin’s Vale Light is a wicked witchcraft tale that follows a single mum and daughter move to public housing estate Pendle Vale, where they encounter a witch who has other ideas for them.
Perun Bonser's sharp and stylish black-and-white segment The Shore is steeped in Gothic atmosphere as it follows a father raising a young girl in isolation in the woods – and not just for her own protection but others’ too.
And finally, serving as your bedtime nerves-settler, is Bjorn Stewart's Killer Native, a raucous, period creature feature that sees pregnant English couple arrive Down Under as opportunistic early settlers ready to mark themselves on the map, only for them to come across a Blackfella who warns them of a beast lurking in the forest. Expect scaly, slimy, silly, splattery, slapstick savagery, and a climactic umbilical cord scene that should see this entertaining and thought-provoking Australian Aboriginal anthology rightfully applauded with a celebratory knee slap.