Lionsgate // 2008 // 92 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 1st, 2009
Every body has a different taste.
Get it? Because this movie is about cannibals!
Four friends journey deep into the Australian bush, looking for a rare species of tiger. What they don't bank on is the nasty eating habits of the locals. Apparently, these pals -- all young and relatively horny -- have wandered into a particular slice of geography renowned for its old-school cannibalistic ways. Walking through the woods, finding partially chewed pieces of their friends, our heroes will be forced to fend off the hungry, man-eating yokels, if they wish to evade their fate as a tasty casserole.
Stick with this one and you'll be rewarded with a pretty f-ed up little tale of cannibalism in the Outback. It's been a while since I've seen a good cannibal movie -- if in fact it's at all appropriate to call movies about dudes eating people "good" -- but Dying Breed has the goods. Fans of the genre, even dating back to old-school Italian chew-a-thons, will find value in this effort.
But you will have to be patient. The film takes its sweet time building up to the real horrific stuff. For a good 45 minutes, you're going to endure the typical four-friends-on-a-weekend-excursion, complete with all the stereotypes we've come to expect: the obnoxious guy, the slutty girl, the hapless sexually frustrated dork, and the sympathetic heroine. It's not especially compelling stuff and you might be tempted to tune out. Don't! Once this thing picks up, it flies, and the payoff is significant.
The crazies-in-the-woods gimmick isn't new, nor is the crazies-in-the-woods-that-eat-fools gimmick, but the guys behind Dying Breed expertly stage an intersection of the two. As the cannon fodder characters are systematically hunted and devoured -- in close-up, unnerving fashion (not a huge fan of the chewing) -- the depths of wackiness are revealed. The more we discover about this cannibal brotherhood, the more tense the film grows. And the reveal behind the cabin? That's some premium skin-crawling stuff.
Then there's the ending. Without venturing into spoiler territory, I could see why some folks may not be enamored with how this thing wraps. I think it's fine, though a part of me was hoping for some more bodacious comeuppance. That last scene, however, is a nasty little number, reminiscent of the capper to a top-shelf Tales from the Crypt episode.
Lionsgate has popped out a solid DVD, beginning with an impressive 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, a clean 5.1 Dolby Digital surround mix, and a solid making-of featurette. Also on deck: a producer's trailer and Miss Horrorfest webisodes.
The pacing is lethargic at first, but Dying Breed delivers when it counts.
Not guilty, though it's not a slam dunk case.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R