The fertiliser business can be tough going, particularly if your supply of roadkill is not enough to keep up with the demand for your blood and bone mix. Reg and Lindsay Morgan are brothers, small business owners, and occasional body thieves, supplementing the usual wallabies and kangaroos that go in to their products with the occasional car crash victim. However, lately everyone is taking road safety a little bit too seriously, and they’ve got a big order to fill.
Written and directed by brothers Cameron and Colin Cairnes, 100 Bloody Acres is a family affair, both on the screen and off. The two take some time out ahead of tomorrow’s release to talk to Subterranean Death Cult about horror, beard-nets, and taking drastic measures to keep your small business afloat.
The brothers’ shared Melbourne office reflects the hectic schedule they’ve had in the last few weeks promoting their work, and their enthusiasm for both the film and the horror genre at large. The whiteboard is covered in playful illustrations of the team, and dotted around the place are figurines of classic horror villains. By the door is a replica of a severed hand.
100 Bloody Acres has an unusual history. Spanning around eight years from idea to final product, it took part in the “Script Alive” project, a collaboration between Film Victoria and Cinema Nova in which a screenplay is publicly read aloud. The film itself was shot over twenty five days in Adelaide, which provided the perfect setting, not just because of convenience but “because it came with its own Fairyland”, a somewhat sinister ’70s relic of a park, filled with nursery rhyme characters, and only open to the public on the 3rd Sunday of every month.
“It’s a horror romp I guess.” Cameron laughs when asked to describe the film in his own words. “The basic premise is that it’s two brothers who have a struggling fertiliser business who have recently stumbled upon new ingredient for their blend – human roadkill.” He pauses. “They’ve never actually killed anyone before so on this particular day, Reg (Damon Herriman) the more dim-witted younger brother picks up three hitchhikers and decides ‘this is going to be the day. We’re going to put the kids through the mincer.’ Reg being who he is, starts to have second thoughts, but his brother Lindsay (Angus Sampson) can see the value in these unique ingredients, so it ends up being this Cain and Abel story of these boys duking it out.”
Despite being brothers themselves, Cameron and Colin deny drawing too much inspiration from their own relationship when shaping the characters of Reg and Lindsay. “It’s not something we thought about too much.” Cameron explains. ”It was more that in the country these businesses are often family run, and it just made sense that these two brothers would be our protagonists/antagonists.”
This is somewhat reassuring given the terse, unbalanced, and at times violent relationship between the Morgan brothers. The Cairnes brothers’ own relationship is significantly better, managing to co-write and co-direct with no problems. Colin laughs as he describes the experience of working together on set as a “natural organic progress” and says that they’ve been collaborating “on and off for twenty years.”
Cameron continues “there are definitely traits of us in both those characters but I wouldn’t say one is one character and one is the other”. Instead it is the unique dialogue and phrases where he sees more of a family connection. “There happens to be quite a lot of our father in there, just with some of the language and expressions – in particular Lindsay who was loosely modelled on the old man. And a bit of our grandfather in there as well.” The idea behind this is to “create this timeless world. You’re not quite sure whether you’re in the 70s, the 80s or the present day. I think a lot of that comes through in the language which was heavily borrowed from our family.”
This created world continues online, where the “Morgan brothers” have their own website (complete with audio-sensory overload and links to the town’s bulletin), Twitter account, and a slew of fantastic commercials for their “new blend” which are awkwardly directed, stiltingly acted and hilariously reminiscent of daggy ads from the early 90s.
100 Bloody Acres straddles multiple genres and is filled with memorable moments which will make you squirm, laugh, or both. Horror, laced with humour and a generous helping of Australian in-jokes, this film potentially could have appealed only to a very niche audience. However, with a soundtrack of Australian country music and an innovative use of pictures of Rebecca Gibney, the script maintains both humour and horror consistently. The shock of seeing a body go through a mincer (no special effects, that machine really did hack up a prosthetic corpse) is offset by seeing a surly Lindsey snap on a protective beard-net (they exist. You can order them online). Already released to hugely positive reviews in the USA, through a combination of a tightly written script and excellent casting choices, the Cairnes brothers have created something unique and not to be missed.
So, whether you do or do not like horror or comedy, seeing 100 Bloody Acres should still be a thing you do. I don’t know why I keep saying do.
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