Released: 7th November
Seen: 31st October (Monsterfest Film Festival)
The slasher genre is a very recent creation, really only starting in the 60s with the Italian Giallo films and, of course, the immortal Psycho. It reached a golden age in the late 70’s when it became THE genre for budding filmmakers to grab onto since all you needed were some young unknown actors, a sharp object, a bottle of liquid latex and some fake blood to make a film. While it’s never been mainstream, the Slashers have always had an audience that followed it from the early days of Halloween to the straight-to-video era through to the post-modern classics like Scream until the genre entered a slump in the early 2010’s thanks to a deluge of remakes and the rise of films like Paranormal Activity which proved anyone could make a film, even if they didn’t know how to operate a camera and only had bits of string to handle the effects work. Slashers recently have started having a bit of a revival though, with TV series like American Horror Story finally tackling the genre this year and an actual TV series called Slasher, plus the return of genre favourite Halloween. Now we’re entering a period where we can maybe do even more interesting takes on the Slasher genre, which leads to me explaining why The Furies is a gem of a slasher film that will slide right in along the fun goofy films the genre is known for.
When The Furies begins we’re introduced to Kayla (Airlie Dodds), an epileptic who tends to follow the rules which is a stark contrast to her good friend Maddie (Ebony Vagulans) who is more likely to spray “Fuck Patriarchy” on the wall of a tunnel and bend a few rules to get her voice heard. One night Kayla and Maddie are kidnapped off the street by masked men. When Kayla wakes up, she realizes that she’s locked in a large box and that Maddie is nowhere to be found. Upon escaping the box, Maddie is in a field of ghost gum trees in the middle of the country and soon learns that she’s part of a game where six women and six psychopaths are playing a most dangerous game. Every girl, referred to as a Beauty, has a psychopath, referred to as a Beast, to protect her. The Beast must protect their own Beauty while killing the five other women. If a Beauty is killed, her Beast will also die. It’s a battle royale with a twist in the middle of the Aussie outback, a throwback to the ’80s that kind of works most of the time.
The entire film is a love letter to the old slasher films that were prominent in the ’80s, with all that comes with that genre. The slightly hammy acting, the creative villain character designs and the brutal over-the-top kills that make fans pause the movie just so they can work out how the effect was done. The concept behind the film allows them to go all out on some wild visual designs, especially with six killers who each need to have an instantly iconic style, giving little nods to previous slashers, like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Stage Fright. It helps give each of the killers a recognizable character, and this film has a fair few fun characters for the audience to enjoy all with something a little unique about them. Our main character happens to also be an epileptic.
I’m genuinely happy to see a character with epilepsy in a film, that’s something I don’t see that often. I’ve spent a lot of time on this very blog talking about how, as an epileptic, some films literally try to kill me, so it was fun seeing an epileptic as a hero. Not only as a hero but a hero whose epilepsy is actually plot-relevant because every time Kayla has a fit, it messes with the camera that’s been put in her head so she can see through the eyes of one of the killers and get an idea of where they are or where certain key characters are. It’s also a great dramatic device, having a character crumple down into having a fit just before a killer approaches, leaving them so vulnerable that it creates a ton of great tension.
The gore effects are also just top-notch, mostly practical gore effects which are shot brilliantly and match the throwback feel of the entire movie. There’s only one real noticeable bit of CGI when a head explodes but… I mean, the film was shot in Australia, it’s a little harder to make a fake head and blast it off with a shotgun so CGI will have to do the trick. Each bit of gore is over the top, shocking and impressive while also remembering that these films are usually just a bit of fun. Sure the violence is going to be shocking, but it can also be just goofy enough to be entertaining. It’s not trying to be some serious dark gritty film, this is almost the definition of a silly popcorn movie and it does that well. It does linger a bit longer than it needs to right at the end and some of the characters were a little bit annoying but that’s almost standard with this genre so it’s hard to be too mean to the film because of that.
The Furies is a fun little throwback horror film with a creative idea and some great performances. It has enough unique details to help it stand out from other slasher films, but not enough for it to be one of the greats of the genre. It’s a solid B tier slasher film, good for a fun horror movie marathon where everyone can scream and laugh and enjoy the insanity on offer.