Reg Morgan (Damon Herriman) and Lindsay Morgan (Angus Sampson) live in the secluded Australian countryside, where there's plenty of farms to offer their business to and few people around to poke their noses in. They run Morgan Brothers' Blood and Bone Fertilizer, generally made from the remains of dead animals. However, the discovery of a few plane crash victims led them to create a "new formula" that put their business back on the map. When Reg runs into Sophie (Anna McGahan), James (Oliver Ackland), and Wes (Jamie Kristian) on the way to a music festival, he begins thinking about their recent shortage of materials, and decides to bring them back to his older brother as grist for the mill.
Most of the successful horror comedies are character pieces, driven by the personalities of the people in a given ghoulish situation. Sadly, most filmmakers, including co-director / screenwriters Colin and Cameron Cairnes, are more interested in drawing comedy out of the scenario itself. It's a mistake: the viewer must have a sense of how these types of movies go, because undercutting those moments through observation is the joke, but that also mutes the payoff because the punchline is automatically telegraphed. In this specific case, the gag is the banality of the Morgans' work: they're waiting for a radio ad to play on the local oldies station, and repeatedly refer to themselves as "small business owners" while preparing to murder. The jingle, at least, is worth a smile, but there's no depth to these kinds of gags.
Admittedly, 100 Bloody Acres does attempt to develop its characters, but it sadly does so separately from the humor. We're meant to care about Reg, who Lindsay frequently bullies and berates, and about Reg's infatuation with Sophie, but transplanting material that would feel tired in an actual horror-thriller into a horror-comedy-thriller without any comedy doesn't make it work. The slow burn toward Reg's transformation is just as tedious as it would be if we believed the characters were genuinely in danger. Meanwhile, the character with the most screen time out of the three victims is Wes, one of those "hilariously obnoxious" characters that just comes off as plain old obnoxious. The film's more concerned with Reg, so thankfully Wes only takes up so much of the film, but when he's around, he's annoying.
There are some bright spots in the film. McGahan is legitimately charming as the girl of Reg's dreams, wringing a couple of heartfelt moments out of a dull infidelity subplot. Wolf Creek's John Jarratt also shows up in a wonderfully playful cameo as the friendliest cop in all of Australia, in a scene that overcomes its purpose as gear-grinding "comedy tension" thanks to his cheerful performance alone. There's also a gleefully ludicrous development involving Nancy (Chrissie Page), a kindly old lady who drops in on the Morgans from time to time to make sure they're doing all right. From a technical standpoint, the film is also quite polished (there are some spectacular, old-fashioned prosthetic gore effects on display). It's just a shame about the jokes: for a film predicated on the demand for "new blend," the material here is pretty old hat.
The Video and Audio
Audio is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which is similarly quite nice. There's a pleasing fullness to the track that makes the sounds of the Australian countryside, the grinding of truck gears, and cheesy, vintage local tunes on the radio sound quite natural. The surrounds only really come in when the score or the grinding gears of the meat machine come into the picture, as well as a drug trip sequence in the middle of the movie, but there's a crispness to it that satisfies. A 2.0 track and English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing are also included.
"Before" is next. "Celestial Avenue" (20:52) is a short film by the Cairnes brothers, also featuring actor Angus Sampson. Very strange, but interesting. Seven storyboard galleries lay out the film on paper. A "Mood Reel" (1:39) serves as a glimpse of the film's tone using photographs, music, and quotes, probably shown to investors. Last, "Reg the Dog's Audition" (0:20) is an adorable third of a minute.
"After" is all advertising. "Recording the Radio Ad" (2:41) peeks into the booth while the actors lay down the tracks for one of the film's extended jokes...in character! The ads themselves (1:05) are also included. Furthermore, there are also TV commercials (10:43), which are fairly amusing, "rescued from VHS" spots for the farm.
Trailers for Eddie, Black Out, and The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch play before the main menu. An original theatrical trailer for 100 Bloody Acres is also included.