London Australian Film Festival: Locusts Review

London Australian Film Festival: Locusts Review

Sydney businessman Ryan (Ben Geurens) has a deal go wrong, losing a lot of money in the process. He is estranged from his father, but travels to his remote hometown for his funeral, hoping to receive his inheritance. But the town is a dump, with the local cops on the take and Ryan’s city suit and car attracting the wrong type of attention. And the inheritance is gone, Ryan’s father’s home having been remortgaged. Worse, a local gang led by the wheelchair-bound McCrea (Alan Dukes) has abducted Ryan’s brother Tyson (Nathaniel Dean) and want ten thousand dollars in two days or they shoot him. It’s time for Ryan and his old flame Izzy (Jessica McNamee) to fight back.

Locusts was shot in Broken Hill, New South Wales, which is a frequent filmmaking location, having featured in such as Mad Max 2, Razorback and at the start of the 1970s Australian cinema revival as Wake in Fright. That’s a lot to live up to, and Locusts doesn’t. While it’s a decently made outback noir, intentionally harking back to the Ozploitation era, while certainly watchable it doesn’t really distinguish itself.

The film was written by Angus Watts and directed by Heath Davis, with both producing. It’s the third feature as director by Davis, after Broke (2016) and Book Week (2018) and four short films. The title refers to the insects who form million-strong swarms and destroy everything in their wake leaving nothing behind, but that could be said of the characters here. Chris Bland’s cinematography makes the most of the remote setting, all dust and sand, car wrecks and rotting kangaroo corpses. The film has a good few twists and turns in the plot, but for all its obvious craft it simply fails to engage.

As with the film, so the cast, who do a capable job without really distinguishing themselves. This was one of the last films for Damian Hill, in the role of Davo. He had previously written and co-starred in Pawno, and died on 22 September 2018, aged just forty-two.

Locusts is a film with nothing very much to say, and most of it misanthropic. That goes with the genre territory, but unfortunately while you see it done well enough here you have seen it all before.

Locusts showed at the London Australian Film Festival. Further UK distribution is to be confirmed.

Overall

A lean if overfamiliar slice of outback noir.

6

out of 10

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