An elaborate, and ultimately very violent, game of cat and mouse is the very nature of a slasher film. And when it’s done correctly, the subgenre of horror thrives. Sometimes it’s just enough to pit a crazed, usually masked psychotic killer against an unsuspecting group of character sterotypes (predominantly teenagers) and watch the stalk-kill carnage play out. For The Furies, Australian director Tony D’Aquino’s blood-soaked debut feature, the hunter and prey mentality oft adhered to is altered just enough so that it stands out on its own accord, despite nailing the narrative beats we’d expect.
Waking up in a box labelled “Beauty #6” in the middle of the Australian bush with no recollection of how she got there, The Furies‘ “final girl” archetype, Kayla (Airlie Dodds), soon cottons on to the horrific situation she has been immersed in against her will; she is being hunted by a collective of weapon-wielding, masked men (whether it’s for sport or for pleasure is never entirely clear), and, as she comes to realise, she’s not the only “Beauty” trying to outlast the “Beasts”.
With their imposing statures, outfits made of sewn-together skin and wood, and relentless thirst for brutality, these “Beasts” act like an amalgamation of Leatherface, Jason, and…practically any unsettling horror villain that comes to mind, and whilst the film’s script inventively toys with the tropes of survival for both the seemingly helpless woman and the unstoppable men, the suggestion that it’s not just the brutes wielding their axes and machetes that the girls should be weary of isn’t a narrative lost either; Kayla’s eventual union with a group of other women doesn’t exactly allude to the notion that there’ll be harmony among them.
Despite the epileptic seizures that sporadically inflict her throughout the course of the film, Kayla proves tenacious in her will to survive, swiftly transforming into an avenging force to be reckoned with as she stands firm on the battle grounds against the murderous dominion that have violated her freedom. On both sides of the competition, The Furies delivers with a gory glee, creating some truly horrifying sequences that certify the film’s deserved R18+ rating; one early on set piece involving an axe and a poor girl’s face is by far one of the most impressive use of practical gore effects you’re likely to witness.
Though there isn’t exactly much originality in the film’s core premise, D’Aquino twists with the common tropes enough that it never feels redundant. As well, the usual submissive girl vs. dominant man notion is wonderfully challenged, as is the manner in which we usually consume traditional horror violence (ie gender specific). Given the narrative nuggets The Furies drops towards its climax suggests there’s perhaps a broader story to be told, this film acting as a jumping-off point for a potential series (and, let’s face it, slashers are notorious for knocking out a good sequel or two, or seven) only minimally changes the overall impact should this exist solely as its own story, with the grander plan of the who and why behind the game best left to our own conclusion.
The Furies will be playing as part of Monster Fest 2019 (October 31st – November 3rd) before an exclusive cinema release on November 7th 2019.