Charlie's Farm

Australia | 2014 | Directed by Chris Sun

Logline: Four friends visit an apparently derelict property to experience its haunted vibe as a thrill, only to find themselves at the hands of a sadistic serial killer.

Chris Sun has written, directed, and produced three features, and he is a strong advocate for the use of practical special effects over the use of CGI, in fact his own special effects unit, Slaughter FX, doubles as his production company. His new movie, no longer restricted by previously low budgets, claims to feature the next great horror villain icon, one Charlie Wilson, “7ft 170kg of Pure Aussie Killing Machine.”

Don’t worry Greg Mclean your Wolf Creek is safe from harm.

Jason (David Kirkright) and his buddy Mick (Sam Coward) entice Jason’s girlfriend Natasha (Tara Reid) and her friend Melanie (Allira Jacques) into an Outback for a little fishing adventure, not informing them of their secret agenda to suss out a property supposedly haunted by a bunch of gruesome murders thirty odd years earlier. Their guise is exposed around a campfire and Mick spills the beans on the dark history of the young retard Charlie Wilson, his twisted ma (Trudi Ross) and pa (Bill Moseley), and their deadly confrontation with angry locals.

Despite the local bar flies warning them to piss off back home, Jason, Mick, Natasha, and Melanie enter the Wilson farmland. Two backpackers (David Beamish and Genna Chanelle Hayes) turn up for the same dark thrills. The filthy teddy bear Melanie had claimed as a horror souvenir has vanished. There’s a sickly-sweet stench rising from a mysterious hole in the ground nearby. And Natasha looks terminally hungover.

Actually, Natasha appears crook because Tara Reid looks absolutely haggard and anorexic. Not only is her performance dialed in from some dive bar in LA, you can’t help but cringe at her thin, grim appearance. She sticks out like a sore thumb, almost as frightening as Charlie himself. But then Charlie isn’t that menacing, and it takes ages before he makes an appearance. He’s a roaring, crashing hulk with glazed eyes and horribly scarred flesh, brandishing some kind of huge cutlass, but I found Michael Myers more terrifying in a white mask and boiler suit, just standing motionless behind clothes blowing on a washing line.

It’s not as if Sun has made a technically bad movie, the production values are solid; there is definitely a slick veneer, most of which is courtesy of the cinematography and 2nd unit. But Sun and his book of adolescent horror clichés falls out of the ugly tree and hits all the branches on the way down. All the predictable, groan-inducing elements are in place, right down to the puerile sex and fart jokes. You can’t wait for lard arse Mick to get royally gutted, but disappointingly, and predictably, he only gets his “donkey” cut off and shoved down his throat. It’s Mel (a Sun cast staple) who gets the best Charlie treatment; having her jaw torn off in easily the movie’s most impressive gore gag.

Considering the enormous hype surrounding this movie I really expected a lot more in the blood and gore department, but much of it happens in semi-darkness, is edited too quickly to fully appreciate, or happens off-screen. The characters are cardboard cutouts delivering risible dialogue. Hell, the movie would be a comedy, if it didn’t take itself so seriously! Whilst Kane Hodder’s casting is ill conceived, his inclusion absurd even, it’s an absolute crying shame Bill Moseley wasn’t given a more substantial role, something he could really get his teeth into. I’m sure he’d have been far more memorable in the titular role.

No doubt the loyal Sun fans will flock to Charlie’s Farm, but one thing’s for sure, the turkey’s arrived early for Christmas.