Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Charlie’s Farm: Ozploitation at Its Most Exploitative

Some places are just evil. The old Wilson farm is like that. Yet, due to the notoriety of the Wilson family’s serial killing, torture, and cannibalism, hipster backpackers constantly come to gawk at the scene of their crimes. They are never disappointed by the spot—unfortunately. More meat for the grinder will soon arrive in Chris Sun’s Charlie’s Farm (trailer here), a nasty piece of gristle that releases today on DVD.

Jason and his American expat girlfriend Natasha are bored, so they decide to light off on a road trip with their pals, Facebook hottie Melanie and “Donkey” (don’t ask). Rather than the beach, they settle on an outback excursion, but Jason and Donkey secretly agree camping out at the Wilson farm will be a laugh riot. When they finally come clean, Natasha thinks they are nuts, but Melanie appreciates the ill-conceived irony.

However, the locals do their best to dissuade the stupid idiots from their plan, especially Old Blue, the mean codger who was there when the villagers finally took the pitchforks to the Wilsons. They got the sicko Wilson parents, but the mentally challenged son escaped. Everyone assumed he would quickly perish in the outback, but instead he grew up to be gargantuan. Of course, he is still out there, carving up hikers and tourists for his own sadistic sport.

Much like the savage Wolf Creek franchise, Farm is unabashedly brutal and gory. At times, it makes you feel unclean for watching. Yet, it is nearly redeemed single handedly by Kane Hodder, who steals the film lock, stock, and barrel as Tony Stewart, a former boxer who sets out to rescue his younger, dumber pals. It is ironic Hodder is best known for wearing the Jason Voorhees hockey mask in the Friday the 13th films, because he is a genuinely charismatic actor (for further proof, check out the infinitely superior Digging Up the Marrow). When he faces off against Charlie Wilson (not the one played by Tom Hanks), the movie approaches awesome territory.

As Natasha, Tara Reid is kind of not bad, but she still looks weird. Allira Jacques also shows some attitude and energy as Melanie, but the shtick of Sam Coward’s Donkey is just painful. Serious horror fans will also appreciate Bill Moseley totally creeping out the joint as old man Miller in the flashback scenes, but the cruelty they depict is just no fun to watch.

It is frustrating to see flashes of inspiration and even wit when Hodder is on-screen, but then witness the rest of the film descend into genre bottom-feeding. It might hold nostalgic appeal for old school Ozploitation enthusiasts, but the stakes have gone up since the days of Razorback. As a horror film in its own right, it simply isn’t very good. Hodder fans should catch up with Marrow instead. Regardless, for the hardcore, Charlie’s Farm is now available on DVD.