Kidnapped and afraid, a woman finds herself fighting to stay alive as an unwilling participant in a deadly game where women are hunted by masked men.
An inventively violent throwback to the heyday of 80’s slasher movies, Tony D’Aquino’s debut feature The Furies attempts to mix themes from Greek mythology with elements of technology and feminism, all whilst hoping to create an original spin on the classic babe-in-the-woods slasher outback survival story.
Starting with some rapid character development that feels more than a little forced, the script (also written by D’Aquino) introduces us to our soon to be plucky heroine Kayla (Arlie Dodds) as she has a truly preposterous argument with her life-long friend Maddie (Ebony Vagulans). Debating the ins and outs of our main character’s psyche, while calling her weak for using her epilepsy as a crutch, it’s not long before these two are picked up by masked men, and chartered off to wake up in a box in the outback with several other ‘beauties’.
If I can give The Furies anything positive right off the bat, it’s that the flick really doesn’t waste any time in getting to the good stuff. The opening scene (while still totally preposterous) is over in a matter of minutes and the slashing begins in earnest, as our unique villains begin dispatching these women in some truly visceral ways. One kill, in particular, stands out as being one of the goriest practical effects I’ve seen for a long time, as a woman’s face slowly gets removed with an axe. The extreme inventiveness and practical effects used for the movie’s kills, really make you want to love The Furies, but sadly the movie tries to be too inventive in other areas, creating a mess of ideas without pulling off one successfully.
The overall inclusion of the ‘beauties’ and ‘beasts’ (this movie’s slasher villains) is truly unique. In this game, and yes we are talking Battle Royale vibes here, every ‘beauty’ is paired with a ‘beast’ as her protector, whose job it is to dispatch the other beauties until his is the only one left. The problem is that the movie doesn’t really do anything inventive with the concept once introducing it. The whole movie could have easily been based around this concept, yet it’s never fully developed because the script has other idea’s it’s shoe-horned in. There are too many ingredients involved here, the worst of which are the premonitions our character gets whenever she has an epileptic seizure, which mostly seems like an excuse to do POV kill sequences from the ‘beasts’ perspective. Are the scenes good? Yes, because the gore is terrific. Do they feel extremely forced into the narrative though? Hell yes.
Strip away some plot elements, and I feel that D’Aquino has the ability to pull off a great movie here. He pulls in a strong performance from Arlie Dodds as Kayla (from the better Australian horror Killing Ground), and at risk of repeating myself, knows how to film an effective freaking kill scene. It just feels like he got bogged down in trying to give his slasher movie too many ‘hooks’, and eventually ends up hanging himself on them.
The next point I usually hate referencing with movies, because ultimately creators can only work with what they have, but this movie can also have a tendency to feel a little on the cheap side when it comes to the production. The aforementioned Killing Ground showed that you didn’t need a big budget to make Australia intimidating, but that movies beautiful locations and cinematography are swapped here for a set of barren outback woods that always feel like the same patch of forest. The stark white of the tree bark is initially unsettling with its bone-like appearance, but it mutes the pallette throughout the movie, creating a very unengaging viewing experience as the movie progresses.
It sounds like I truly hated The Furies, but that’s really not the case. If you’re looking for a basic slasher with some excellent kills, you can certainly do worse than this one. I do, however, believe that a lot of people will come out of this movie disappointed, considering the base level potential this movie possessed. In some ways, a ‘disappointing’ movie can have more of a lasting impression than a truly ‘bad’ one, and sadly, this one has the distinction of coming after some more successful horror entries from the land down under.
High on gore content but extremely weak in most other areas, The Furies feels like a missed opportunity considering the love the creators clearly have for the genre.