FrightFest 2019: The Furies
Writer/Director: Tony D’Aquino
Starring: Airlie Dodds, Ebony Vagulans
The Furies utilizes a clever setup to arrive at familiar slasher territory. While out tagging pedestrian tunnel, Kayla (Airlie Dodds) and Maddie (Ebony Vagulans) are suddenly abducted and wake up in a remote part of the Outback near an abandoned gold mine. But they're not alone, a few other girls are also stranded there along with several slasher-style masked killers. The killers and the girls have been implanted with cameras inside their retinas, these also act as shock collars of sorts making them unable to leave the area, and provide sadistic entertainment to unseen viewers. Separated from Maddie, Kayla must fend for herself to survive and try to save her friend. Initial Reactions K: The film delivers the requisite amount of gore while managing to add several unexpected twists along the way. Airlie Dodds stands out as the final girl, grounding the film and creating a believable and strong character. Overall, it was a solid and enjoyable watch, though I do think there was room for a bit more humor given the absurdity of the circumstances and perhaps a bit more to explore in regards to this all being streamed for the amusement of some wealthy sadists out there. C: You gotta give it to the Aussies. In a time where stuff is either too clean in an editing bow or homage-obsessed grindhouse sent into the land of parody, they are willing to make a movie that gives you all those dirty feeling of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the practical effects of the Hatchet series without it becoming a gimmick. Based on the content of “helpless” women being chased by masked killers, I’m sure there will be a slew of articles labeling this as misogynistic. However, being that we are introduced to our main character as she’s watching her friend spray paint the words “fuck patriarchy” on a wall and lecture her about breaking the rules (socials norms), I think it’s safe to assume the misogyny is purposeful and a major theme throughout. I think the female characters were as fleshed out as can be with a movie like this. Kayla’s journey progresses at a reasonable pace. She is called “helpless” by her friend, Maddie at the beginning and it’s not like when she arrives in this game, she’s instantly a badass heroine, in actuality she lets two women die that she could have helped. Also, I guess if you’re epileptic it allows you to see what the killers see and you have your blackouts at the perfect (or worst) time to move the plot forward. I was wondering who the killers were as you get a sense, they’re there against their will too or members of the criminally insane but it’s a story of these women and ultimately that question doesn’t matter. My biggest issue is how serious it takes itself. The plot is ridiculous and enters the whole currently popular The Most Dangerous Game territory of rich people spending lots of money to see the 99% die in violent ways. The gore is over the top. The killers look like they could be Leatherface’s cousins. Even the female characters have their own random quirks. On paper it seems like a fun commentary on the slasher genre with 7 killers trying to kill 7 victims while each one must protect a victim their assigned, making them the ultimate “final girl.” It doesn’t embrace its weirdness and this is why I can see the movie being considered misogynistic rather than a piece critiquing misogyny. Without that release of tension and acknowledgment, we’re left watching a bunch of men, wearing human skins, torturing and killing women, and in turn how some of these women ultimately crack under the pressure and commit violence against their own gender. I’d like to say I’m reading too much into it but without that black comedic-nod that is even present in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you’re really only left with the message that’s being forced down your throat and the massive violence against women.
J: First I have to say bravo to the gore and practical effects, which unfortunately were the highlight for me. Heads explode, faces are cut off, fingers fly, arms are torn asunder… fucking spectacular shit. Honestly, there should have been more of it because the film is largely plotless so you have to be engaging in some way to account for the lack of any kind of story. The film fits into what seems to be the emerging “game horror” subgenre. This game featured here was a sick and sadistic one with brutish, disgusting Leatherface clones murdering women. All men… murdering all women… never heard of that before. In an expository scene, some of the girls are able to figure out the rules of the game by some extremely happenstance bullshit that I’m still unclear on how they came to the conclusion they did. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. The filmmakers make pretty good use of the location and were able to craft something that was entertaining if simple minded. Comedy was surprisingly lacking considering how ridiculous the “story” was and it took itself extremely serious for some reason. Be simple minded all you want but give us the fucking grue to compensate. Also, I don’t wanna get into spoiler territory and frankly, I can’t but you’ll notice a certain similarity to the Hostel films in the proceedings and I have to say that it did add a clever touch. Response K: I have to agree with my comrades here, overall it was a competently made film. The acting and practical effects stood out in particular. But given such an absurd situation it seems impossible not to have exploited the over-the-top comedy just waiting to rear its head. Close, but no cigar. C: After a few days to digest I’ve found I’m still in the same place. The practical effects were great, the actors played their parts well and the look was amazing. However, with such an outlandish plot and excessive gore, it lacked the entertainment value that comes with the territory. It doesn’t reach the commentary of Chainsaw to be studied or the fun of the Hatchet franchises’ to enter the late night fan favorite. Where we could get some wonderful black comedic elements critiquing misogyny, we are left with an onslaught of violence against women that unfortunately loses its intention because of the stylistic choices. J: I agree with Craig on the comedy or the lack thereof. That might’ve been enough to make me love this because each time I felt there was a perfect opportunity to make me howl, it just didn’t. In most cases it would’ve been the blackest humor too which would’ve pushed this fucker up a notch or two on the average score card. Competently made without question, top notch practical effects and a damn fine use of the location but just lacking that one other element that I think was crucial… it took itself too damn serious. Bloodhound’s average score: 3 out of 5