Dying Breed (2008)
Directed by Jody Dwyer
Starring Nathan Phillips, Leigh Whannell, Mirrah Foulkes, Melanie Vallejo
Review by Jordan
Forget Cradle Mountain, Wineglass Bay or the Hobart waterfront, all any potential visitor to the lovely island state of Tasmania, Australia should need to encourage them to venture across the Bass Strait is Jody Dwyer’s gore-drenched inbred horror film Dying Breed. After all, what better draw cards are there than lovingly irksome characters, blissful cannibalism, a finely contrived plot and a delightfully nihilistic conclusion? Well, actually, 1,000,000 other things come to mind…
When two couples, sensible long-termers Matt (Leigh Whannell of Saw fame) and Nina (Mirrah Foulkes) and erratic fun-loving duo Jack (Nathan Phillips) and Rebecca (Melanie Vallejo) venture into the dense labyrinth of central Tasmania to continue Nina’s dead sister’s mission to locate and prove the existence of the long-thought-extinct Tasmanian Tiger, they understandably feel a very unwelcoming vibe from the backwards locals and before long this sense of unwelcoming increases from a mere vibe to a half-eaten face. You see, these inhabitants are not just your everyday run-of-the-mill tire slashing bogans, but decedents of Alexander Pearce, AKA The Pieman, an escaped convict who was hanged for cannibalism in 1824 and if this film’s intro is to be believed sported very unsightly teeth.
Cue all of the expected screaming, fleeing, falling and impaling as our four explorers come face to face with not only one, but two Tasmanian legends and suffer through not only being hunted by a deformed hillbilly, but a terrible plot whose only redeemable feature is its ability to be enjoyed from a pizza and Coke perspective.
Australia has produced some tremendous horror films of late (Lake Mungo, The Tunnel, The Loved Ones), and the tremendous scenery/brutal history of Tasmania has been used to fantastic effect in recent titles The Hunter (2011, starring Willem Dafoe) and Van Dieman’s Land (2009, itself the story of Pearce and his troupe of escaped convicts) but unfortunately Dying Breed cannot rest beside any of these hits and as a result has become as hard to track down as the Tassie Tiger itself. If you’re looking for a quick fix of predictable, mean-spirited B-grade fodder, this may have you covered, but before it comes to a troubling end you’ll be regretting your decision to not watch something else instead.
Oh, and for those considering watching this solely for the presence of Whannell (understandable, given he has become an important writer for this great genre), be prepared to encounter the biggest wet blanket you’ve ever seen; a hero so spineless the cannibals won’t even have to be pick their teeth.