Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
Join Daniel for the swashbuckling adventure 'Peter Pan' on a brand new episode of Ink & Paint - click here to listen now!x
review, Locusts, Locusts, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Ben Geurens, Jessica McNamee, Peter Phelps, Andy McPhee, Nathaniel Dean, Steve Le Marquand, Malcolm Kennard, Justin Rosniak, Damian Hill, Alan Dukes, Heath Davis, Crime, Thriller film rating

LOCUSTS

★★★

A LOW-KEY, LOW-DOWN THRILLER

SYDNEY UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
18th September 2019

"Desert noir" may not be acknowledged as a most prominent cinema genre, but it remains one of the more interesting pop culture intersections where the Western, thriller, pulp fiction and road movie all spectacularly collide. Australia has a few crackers, like Bill Bennett's 'Kiss or Kill' and Ivan Sen's '‘Mystery Road’. Residing beneath the dusty surface of these coarse variations on human primitivism and alienation is a very old-fashioned morality fable, where the iconography of urban expressionism (blinking neon, wailing sirens, etc.) has been replaced with the sun-bleached landscapes and roadkill.

As director Heath Davis' 'Locusts' opens, we are introduced to Ryan Black (Ben Geurens, TV’s ‘Reign’), a bespectacled tech entrepreneur in Sydney who is haunted by memories of an abusive childhood. He returns to his desert hometown of Serenity Crossing for the funeral of his brutal father and to claim his inheritance, reuniting with his even more emotionally damaged brother, Tyson (Nathaniel Dean, ‘Alien: Covenant’), an alcoholic living on the fringe.

Unfortunately, Ryan also comes a cropper with a gang of smalltown crims - Cain (Steve Le Marquand, ‘Red Dog: True Blue’), Benny (Justin Rosniak, ‘War Machine’), Davo (Damian Hill, ‘West of Sunshine’) and the reluctant Caleb (Ryan Morgan), led by the wheelchair-bound McCrea (Alan Dukes, ‘Hearts and Bones’, ‘Ladies In Black’). With more than a passing nod to John Dahl's ‘Red Rock West’ and Oliver Stone’s ‘U-Turn’, Ryan finds himself stuck in the arse-end of nowhere with a broken iPhone and limited options.

'LOCUSTS' TRAILER

Luckily, he has allies in sweary, femme fatale-ish local stripper, Isabella (Jessica McNamee, ‘Battle of the Sexes’, ‘The Meg’) and a kindly station owner, Jake (Andy McPhee).

Having assembled an impressive cast, Davis is content to stand back and give them room to play, from the rough humour of McNamee to the dark soul of Dean to the soulful stares of Morgan and Dukes effortlessly exuding villainous bad vibes. Geurens, meanwhile, is excellent - gradually falling apart over the span of a few days, a man desperate to get out alive, with one eye on the road ahead and the other on the locust cloud over the horizon. Deception, double-crosses and murder soon become interwoven, all in the name of money.

The screenplay of radiologist-turned writer/producer Angus Watts was partly inspired by his experiences growing up in the small NSW town of Quirindi, which went through hard times through drought and erosion, and later witnessing the impact of the end of the mining boom in regional Queensland. The ‪crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of an Australian mining town and the dialogue of its locals feel authentic in the same way that those in Ted Kotcheff's iconic 'Wake in Fright' did. This authenticity is bolstered by the skilled camerawork of DOP Chris Bland ('Broke', 'Book Week'), which assumes a god’s-eye perspective over the shooting location (the drought-stricken region of Broken Hill), allowing one to feel the pitiless, titled, jagged vastness of the landscape. It’s the kind of picturesquely godforsaken scenery in which you could imagine homesteaders in a John Ford western circling their wagons.

This authenticity is bolstered by the skilled camerawork of DOP Chris Bland ('Broke', 'Book Week'), which assumes a god’s-eye perspective over the shooting location (the drought-stricken region of Broken Hill), allowing one to feel the pitiless, titled, jagged vastness of the landscape.

However, the legs of the film begin to wobble at the local strip club, a neon den of thieves where characters like hulking bouncer Ivan (football player George Burgess) and grizzled local cop, Sgt Harvey (an unrecognisable Peter Phelps) seem to live. Whenever the film visits this location, 'Locusts' veers into comedic, faux-Tarantino territory, with the camera zooming in on character's faces and sudden movements prompting "swoosh" sound effects. Complete with a bungled heist sub-plot, it’s a jarring tonal shift from the realistic grittiness of the town.

Fatigue eventually sets in, for the director as well as the audience, and the film collapses into a redundant sonata of attractive carnage. Yet, it’s a mistake to chastise Davis for this excessiveness, because it’s this creatively fallow land (which brings to mind Jean-Francois Richet's 'Blood Father') that yields the highs of some of this unabashedly pulpy film’s most startling sequences. Just as you find creepy-crawlies around a cow’s skull in its early decay stages, so movies with modestly-budgeted production values can seethe with a lower vitality.

'Locusts' might be an imperfect movie with a few scenes that ring hollow, but the moments that work are fuller than many whole films.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 17/10/2019
RUN TIME: 1h 27m
CAST: Ben Geurens
Jessica McNamee
Peter Phelps
Andy McPhee
Nathaniel Dean
Steve Le Marquand
Malcolm Kennard
Justin Rosniak
Damian Hill
Alan Dukes
DIRECTOR: Heath Davis
WRITER: Angus James Watts
PRODUCER: Angus Watts
SCORE: Burkhard Von Dallwitz
www.locustsfilm.com
LocustsFilm
FilmLocusts
Locusts_FilmAus
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Looking for more Sydney Underground Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
A Christmas Gift from Bob - A true story of the festive spirit
TRENDINGWIN A CHRISTMAS GIFT FROM BOBA true story of the festive spirit
Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse - Fairly brainless
TRENDINGSCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSEFairly brainless
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
Rams - Baaa-ck off
TRENDINGRAMSBaaa-ck off
Australia's past, present and future - Celebrating NAIDOC Week with the best Indigenous films
TRENDINGAUSTRALIA'S PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURECelebrating NAIDOC Week with the best Indigenous films
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
David Fincher, ranked - The darkness and the soul of a legendary filmmaker
TRENDINGDAVID FINCHER, RANKEDThe darkness and the soul of a legendary filmmaker
The Secrets We Keep - They kept a big secret... this movie is mediocre
TRENDINGTHE SECRETS WE KEEPThey kept a big secret... this movie is mediocre
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
TRENDINGTHE VIOLIN PLAYERSex and strings
Ip Man: Kung Fu Master - An adequate actioner
TRENDINGIP MAN: KUNG FU MASTERAn adequate actioner
Lion - A raw and powerful journey of identity
TRENDINGLIONA raw and powerful journey of identity
David Byrne's American Utopia - One of the greatest concert films ever made
TRENDINGDAVID BYRNE'S AMERICAN UTOPIAOne of the greatest concert films ever made
Never Rarely Sometimes Always - The film every teenager needs to see
TRENDINGNEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYSThe film every teenager needs to see
Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge - An animated gorefest for aggressive preschoolers
TRENDINGMORTAL KOMBAT LEGENDS: SCORPION'S REVENGEAn animated gorefest for aggressive preschoolers
The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale - An extremely silly zomedy
TRENDINGTHE ODD FAMILY: ZOMBIE ON SALEAn extremely silly zomedy
Leftover Women - Feminists beware, this one's a blood boiler
TRENDINGLEFTOVER WOMENFeminists beware, this one's a blood boiler
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
Wet Woman in the Wind - A sexy struggle for conquest
TRENDINGWET WOMAN IN THE WINDA sexy struggle for conquest
Basic Instinct - 25 years of the erotic thriller
TRENDINGBASIC INSTINCT25 years of the erotic thriller
Pinocchio - A darkly fantastic adaptation of a classic tale
TRENDINGPINOCCHIOA darkly fantastic adaptation of a classic tale
© 2011 - 2020 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us