FrightFest 2019: The Furies

What’s clear from the outset on first viewing writer and director Tony D’Aquino’s film The Furies is that he is a child of the 80’s slasher boom. There’s no meta-commentary on the genre here, no complex development of character and very little in the way of subtlety or nuance. What there is is gore – and lots of it.

Kayla (Airlie Dodds) is minding her own business when, along with a friend, she is abducted and wakes up to find herself alone and vulnerable under the baking Australian sun, pursued by a bevy of  masked and jumpsuited killers. The film wastes absolutely no time in setting up this essential dynamic. It treats all early scenes in which no-one is being beheaded with a kind of toe-tapping impatience that bloody-minded audience members will find refreshing.

The Furies 1
To talk about characterisation and mise-en-scene in a film of this kind seems almost redundant, so let’s get straight into the kills. Creative and bloody, the first kill is a mission statement for the movie and the first glimpse we get of the impressive physical effects the film is about to offer. As it progresses, the mix of CG and plastic effects is mostly well handled, but an over-reliance on much-maligned CG blood-spatter effects is sure to disappoint the purists.

Although obviously a love letter to the slasher genre, The Furies eschews the usual shadows and corridors in favour of blazing sunlight and wide open spaces. It’s a bold visual choice that neatly underlines the vulnerability of the characters.

The Furies 3
The killers stomp around angrily, all looking like they are disappointed to not have been chosen as the new members of Slipknot. They are intimidating, but not distinctive enough to come close to the icons (Myers, Leatherface) that they are meant to emulate.

The overarching plot, in which the killers are implanted with cameras in order to put together a kind of taboo reality TV show, feels like something of an afterthought. The introduction of certain ‘rules’ adds an interesting dimension to the film at points, not dissimilar to that found in Battle Royale, but overall we were disappointed at what came across as a lack of heft. The film hints at commentary on the sexual politics of traditional slashers (our female victims are ‘Beauties’ and their tormenters ‘Beasts’) but again this feels underdeveloped.

From the 8-bit credits sequence that opens the film to its bombastic score, everything about The Furies feels like a love letter to 80s schlock. It’s well executed (pun very much intended), but it’s destined to fall short of cult classic status because it lacks storytelling ambition. As a gory good time, it’s a corker, but here’s hoping that the sequel it seems to be setting up comes with a bit more narrative meat on its bones.

Check out the official trailer for The Furies below!


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