Lost Gully Road Review
Lucy (Adele Perovic) is on her way to a small house in the forest, off the Lost Gully Road of the title, escaping a threatening ex. Her sister Cassie (Eloise Mignon) has organised this, and Lucy is to sit tight and to only use the phone she has given her – not her normal phone or any social media, in case he is able to trace her. Other than the renter of the house (Jane Clifton) and the local shopkeeper (John Brumpton), she sees no one, spending days alone, including her birthday. But she becomes aware of a presence in the house.
Lost Gully Road is the second feature film from director Donna McRae (after 2011's Johnny Ghost, a black-and-white film set in the post-punk era of the early 1980s). Cowritten by McRae and Michael Vale, the latter also the film's production designer, Lost Gully Road makes the most of its small scale: mostly one location, a total credited cast of six. Adele Perovic (probably best known up to now on television for her role in both seasons of the miniseries The Code) is onscreen solo for much of the running time and gives a strong performance, her face and body language conveying much in between the spare dialogue, possibly slowly going out of her mind from isolation. She's already on medication.
Shot on location outside Melbourne, mostly in the Dandenong Ranges, Lost Gully Road follows the path of many a ghost story, from initial small wrongnesses to full-blown supernatural manifestations. However, it does so in the service of a subtext: what women face on a daily basis. From the supposedly-friendly but unwanted flirtatious banter of the shopkeeper, to the likely-violent threat from Lucy's unseen ex, and this is something inherent in the house itself. The film was inspired by a real case, minus the supernatural themes, from Melbourne in 2012.
Lost Gully Road ably builds up the tension over its shortish running time. László Baranyai's cinematography (he also shot Johnny Ghost) adds to the mood and isolates Lucy still further, her red coat standing out against the forest greens and browns, the wide Scope frame emphasising her isolation.
Premiering at Melbourne's annual genre festival Monsterfest in 2017, Lost Gully Road has at the time of writing yet to have a UK showing. Meanwhile, it has been released on DVD in Australia.
Umbrella's release of Lost Gully Road is DVD-only, on an all-regions single-layered PAL disc. It's barebones to the extent that other than a copyright notice and Umbrella's logo, there's just the film (running 76:56, with PAL speed-up from the theatrical 80 minutes) and nothing else, not even a menu. The disc shut my player down as soon as the film finished.
Captured digitally on the Red Epic, Lost Gully Road is transferred in the intended ratio of 2.40:1, anamorphically enhanced. There's nothing untoward here, given that this feature has been in the digital realm from start to finish: it looks fine, with the largely muted colour scheme coming across well.
The soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1. The surround channels are used mostly for the music score (Dave Graney and Clare Moore) and ambience. The dialogue is clear, at least to these ears it is, which is just as well as there are no hard-of-hearing subtitles available. Nor, as mentioned above, are there any extras.