At last, a fair dinkum Aussie monster movie.
Australian-made monster movies are a rarity. So too are local genre films that draw on the wealth of outback legends and Aboriginal mythology. Writer-director Luke Sparke rectifies this with his debut feature Red Billabong.
A pair of estranged brothers (Dan Ewing and Tim Pocock) must put aside their differences when they discover something big and unnatural lurking in the vicinity of their late grandfather’s bush property.
Red Billabong begins traditionally, introducing a group of partying youngsters whom we assume will be picked off one by one by the unseen beast. But as it progresses, it becomes obvious this isn’t that kind of movie – there’s a strong focus on character and storytelling frequently missing from genre films, and subplots involving cryptozoology (Google it), tribal legends and a shady property developer add further layers.
There are some clunky moments, which are mostly played for laughs, but on the whole this is an impressive first feature that’s as slick and good looking as its cast. As for the toad-like beast lurking beneath the billabong, which is what you’ve come to see, it’s a well-realized CGI creation reminiscent of the monsters from The Relic and The Lamp. And the film follows the rules of any good creature feature, teasing us with the odd glimpse until the climactic reveal.
It’s also a rarity for a film of this type to receive a nationwide theatrical release, so catch this quintessentially Aussie monster romp on the big screen with a rowdy crowd while you can. And stick around during the closing credits.
In cinemas: August 25, 2016
Starring: Dan Ewing, Tim Pocock, Ben Chisholm
Directed by: Luke Sparke