Charlie’s Farm follows a group of friends who decide they want to seek adventure in dangerous territory. The infamous Charlie’s Farm was once home to a family of lunatics who killed stragglers and tourists, but when the townsfolk got wind of what was happening they marched to the farm, flamed torches at the ready, and demanded an end to family’s violence. However, the young son managed to escape and it is he who is thought to be still living at the farm, and killing anyone who steps foot on the land. Of course, this all thought to be here-say and the farm is actually completely and totally safe, despite the amount of people who have gone missing there. There must be another explanation!
Australia has been dishing out some brilliant horror films recently, making a furious mark in the supernatural world with the nightmarish The Babadook and also giving the zombie genre a much-needed, fantastic refresh with Wyrmwood. With Charlie’s Farm, Chris Sun gives takes his stab at the slasher flick, but is his addition going to go down in horror history, or is it just another unsatisfying killing spree?
The film begins typically and the characters we are set to journey with are your stereotypical bunch. We have the intelligent, cynical female, the fun-loving, carefree female with a “you only live once” attitude and then two men who are far too curious for their own good. They may be unoriginally written, but these characters are quite likeable and they are played by a strong cast. Sam Coward gives bucket loads of personality to wannabe ladies-man Mick and Tara Reid confidently plays the role of the intelligent Natasha. Parts of the script are a little lacklustre, with some scenes of dialogue feeling a bit clunky and unrefreshing. However, it never fully goes down the rabbit hole of total cliché, so that gets a thumbs-up from me.
Obviously, the women are lied to from the start and are not told the truth about the group’s planned escapades. They are lead to believe that there is nothing to fear and all they are going to be doing is a bit of relaxing and horse-riding. Sigh. These poor, defenceless women are far too fragile to handle the truth, right? However, it doesn’t take long for the truth to be revealed. They stop off at a bar and meet some unfriendly locals who warn them of the spooky dangers that will greet them if they travel to Charlie’s Farm, but does this stop our protagonists? No way in hell. Our brave bunch continue their journey in the name of adventure! Let the fun begin. Sadly for us, the fun does not begin until the film hits the one hour mark. There is far too much meandering around the back-story of the farm which does not add to the events that are currently happening. The slow-burn effect works well initially; being given a taste of what’s come is a nice tease and the scenes from the past do give us some much-needed groundwork. However, it fast becomes tiresome. Soon the film seems like it is losing lose track of where it’s going, especially when two more characters are needlessly added. All an audience desires from a slasher film is violence, death and a badass serial killer and it’s a shame that we don’t get what we want until the final quarter of the film.
Putting all this negativity aside, this is certainly not a bad film and there is a lot to enjoy once it gets going. The deaths are wickedly grisly and Nathan Jones makes a terrifying machine of a killer. Armed with a machete he towers over the rest of the characters and only speaks one word throughout the film; he is truly menacing. There are some great slow-motion shots which enhance and emphasise the brutality, but also give the film a surprising ounce of beauty. The film delivers plenty of gruesome, bloody deaths and it does not shy away from showing us. It doesn’t cop-out and cut at moments of impact, showing us reaction rather than blows, it gives us the real deal. Gore fans will be relieved to see that the slow build-up to the finale is just about worth the wait.
It may never truly hit the heights it so eagerly clambers for, but Charlie’s Farm is still a solid, entertaining slasher flick and at that, the best one in a long time.
Words: Jessy Williams