John Jarrat etched himself into Aussie Horror Movie folklore with his convincingly menacing portrayal of Mick Taylor in 2005’s highly enjoyable WOLF CREEK. Most recently, Jarrat had a brief cameo appearance in Tarantinos’ DJANGO UNCHAINED alongside the esteemed director himself. In between these however, 2008 saw Jarrat form his very own production company - Winnah Films. The first full feature from Winnah (originally titled FLOOD) went into production in 2009 but now surfaces on DVD via Region 0 MVD Visual DVD.

We start with Sue (Angela Punch McGregor) having to flee to her sisters with her son Damien (Charlie Garrat, Johns son) because "he has got out". The "he" in this case is her ex-husband, Phil (John Jarrat), a boozy abusive gambling addict who has somehow legally contrived a premature release from his latest stay in prison.

To say Phil is a little peeved is an understatement and his agenda is to catch up with his Sheila to take back "what he is entitled to". Alongside this marital drama unfolding we have Shae (Sacha Horler) and Mickey (Rebecca Smart) who are off on their outback jollies. In some rather rudimentary banter between the girls we learn that Shae has just come out of a lesbian relationship and finds boys positively yuk! (Remember that folks as it may come in useful later in one of the numerous tepid sub plots!).

Regardless of the polar opposite reasons for travelling, some torrential rain is about to engulf their respective paths and the "Flood Warning" signs that the camera honed in on in the opening frames are about to be validated.

It instantly culminates in the two couples of mother and son and straight and gay mates taking refuge at the Wonga River Roadhouse which is run by the delectable platinum haired Kate (Jessica Napier) and ex-Neighbours beanpole Mory (Craig McLachlan).

By now Phil has taken advantage of the fact that Sue

A. Didn’t lock the house before she fled.

B. Has not bothered to change her internet banking password

C. Has left her phonebook open at the EXACT page at the address she is going to and

And finally…

D. She is planning on a career in alcoholism judging by the plethora of full whiskey bottles nonchalantly sitting on her kitchen table!

Fuelled by copious gulps of liquor and the revelation that his bitch of a wife has just transferred $100,000 to some unknown individual he is hot on the trail.

Needless to say this leads him to the Roadhouse which is by now in the clutches of the flood. Just as Phil’s abusive threats of revenge to his wife are threatening to get out of control, help is at hand. A Cop who moonlights as a hit man enters the fray. Is Sue really the victim after all? Will Damien get to dip his didgeridoo in one of the hapless maidens? Will Mickey be able to resist the crisis driven lesbian advances of Shae? I guess you will have to pick up a copy yourself!!

To say that Jarrat is living on past glories is somewhat of an understatement! WOLF CREEK is mentioned no less than THREE TIMES on the cover notes of the SAVAGES CROSSING disc.

Apart from the appearance of Jarrat himself, comparisons with WC are a little futile.

Gone are the seemingly noble intentions with a suspicion of malice that created the tension and moulded the Taylor character. Instead, Jarrat as Phil is a dapper dressed fruit loop from the very off!

The opening frames did promise a visual treat if nothing else. Some rich framing of the blue sky and rapidly moving feathery clouds along with some cracking views of the barren Australian outback soon gave way to the dank setting of the Wonga. But with such a ‘housed in’ setting the requirement of interesting characters is essential if you want to engross your audience. Unfortunately, once holed up in the roadhouse the characters failed to gel as the script blandly conveyed a few twists and turns.

I couldn’t help notice the rain stopped from time to time and in the climatic third of the movie, the surrounding forest, although sodden, could hardly be deemed to be the victim of an all-out flood which came perilously close to making a farce of the original title.

The violence for me is only worthy of a "15" rated certificate with numerous fistfights finally succumbing to a couple of belated uses of the handgun that was blatantly present throughout the marital bickering!

The back cover notes claim the movie is "WOLF CREEK meets BLOOD SIMPLE". But for me, possibly due to be co-written by husband and wife team of John Jarrat and Cody Jarret (no that’s not a misspelling!) it was more a case of ‘Aussie Soap Opera’ infused with mild violence and some quality swearing! The folk ‘down under’ sure know how to crack out a good old fashioned "Fuckin wanker" when required I must say.

Along with the striking visuals in the initial scenes, the 5.1 audio also was worthy of note. Some rumbling thunder rocked the subwoofer while the trouncing rain teased the rear speakers in the title sequence. Unfortunately, once the story got going the sound became a little mundane and offered little to lift a rather average effort.

By way of extras we simply get two Winnah Films trailers, SAVAGES CROSSING and SHIVER. Roll on 2014 when Jarrat gets his chance to rejuvenate the Mick Taylor character and his own reputation as Australia’s face of horror with WOLF CREEK 2.

Review by Marc Lissenburg

Region 1 NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review