The Backpacker Promotion with local girls in Tarmworth

Producer Tara Simmonds with local girls promoting The Backpacker in Tamworth. Photos courtesy of The Northern Daily Leader

The Backpacker Movie Review

Town and Country Magazine / Fairfax

Edge-of-your-seat thriller

21 Feb, 201112:13 PM
WHAT would you do if you woke up in the middle of nowhere and realised you were being hunted by a psychotic serial killer?

Would you beg for your life, hoping that somewhere deep inside he might have at least some humanity, or would you ante up and fight back?

This is the premise of Dion Boland's directorial debut, The Backpacker, which tells the story of a psychopathic predator, Vincent Malek (Vincent Stone), who bites off more than he can chew when he kidnaps an Afghan War veteran Ben Cross (Nathan Waring).

However, as the film slowly unravels we realise that nothing is as it seems and as ulterior motives come to light, a deadly game of cat and mouse begins.

For the most part this is an intense psychological thriller, with Boland slowly winding on the tension and presenting the audience with an ambiguous opening sequence that grounds the film firmly in reality.

But, his most clever trick is playing around the concept of genre, mixing and matching between chase thriller and slash horror, and uhimately crafting a film that exists in its own universe.

Like The Hills Have Eyes, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and A Clockwork Orange, Boland creates his own mythology and as the minutes role on, the audience is confronted with twist after twist, making it very unpredictable.

The movie was also very well written, with a plot that moves along comfortably and dialogue that is both believable and Australian, without being "You know, bloody Australian as mate!"

However, the film's strongest point is definitely the cinematography.

It is accurately shot and Boland makes the best of the rugged countryside, creating a visual harslmess and sense of isolation.

Where most directors would have felt the need to get up in the actors faces and employ a bunch of alternative camera angles to create tension, Boland simply trusts in his ability and delivers a very classy looking film.

Reminiscent of movies like Deliverance, Deer Hunter and Rambo: First Blood, the director uses long steady takes, which gives the film a classic look.

It is also extremely ambitious and the director has certainly made the best of his low budget.

Despite the obvious comparison to Wolf Creek, this movie is very different.

All of the violence in the ftlm is implied, with the bulk of the suspense coming from what we aren't seeing, or might see, as opposed to what we are.

The movie also hinges strongly on the performances, which were, for the most part, rock solid.

Vincent Stone was riveting as Malek, experimenting with the role and turning in a performance which was somewhere between Hannibal Lector and Freddy Kruger.

Lauren Anderson was also very good.

The only real drawback however was that I didn't believe Waring was a soldier. Without giving too much away, there were a few scenes in the movie, particularly ones relating to his reluctance to do certain things that were unconvincing.

That said, Waring's performance wasn't bad and the few little mishaps contributed strongly to both the mythology of the film and its overall unpredictability.

This is a very entertaining movie and is certainly worth a watch!

The Backpacker is now showing at the Limelight Cinemas in Tuggeranong.

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