GORE IN THE STORE
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Directed by Jaco Bouwer.
Starring Jane De Wet, Nicole Fortuin, Carel Nel. Horror, South Africa, 85 minutes.
Released digitally in the UK by Reel 2 Reel Films on 7th August.
Jaco Bouwer made an impression two years ago at that years FrightFest with his strange eco-horror GAIA. A visually distinctive film that made the most of its hallucinatory visuals and dreamlike pacing, it heralded the arrival of a director to keep an eye on in the future. Now arriving on screen in this country is RAGE, a film made one year before for television in South Africa. While not as distinctive as GAIA, this is still an interesting take on the slasher genre with its unfamiliar setting and folk horror trappings.
The usual cast of teenage high school graduate characters are all present and correct in all their bratty qualities, making them ripe to be picked off individually. At the same time, the backwood setting provides an unfamiliar landscape and creepy locals to provide tension and bloodshed. We are introduced to Roxy, a supposedly brainy prize student at a backwoods rave where she seems all too keen to shed her good girl persona in a haze of drugs and dancing. Through Voice Over, she introduces us to her fellow school friends who have all travelled from the city to a rave near an off-the-grid and remote village.
Their superior attitudes mark them out with the village folk they encounter, including an elderly shopkeeper with a surprise hidden behind the shop counter and an awkward and unhygienic plumber who is all too keen to make friends with the outsiders and whom they may already have encountered in their chemically altered states. Continuing their hedonistic activities, the young group soon encounter far more sinister folk and troubling sights and visions that the locals may have brought on for their sinister ends.
There are more than a few similarities with MIDSOMMAR, released the year before this was broadcast in South Africa. From the obnoxious outsiders wandering unwittingly into danger to the elaborate death-laced ceremonies and their decorative trimmings, it is hard to avoid the influence. With its hard-edged and often merciless storyline, RAGE still manages to carve its own path, however slight. The more immediate slasher narrative on offer here delivers Bouwer’s already distinctive visuals that he would further develop with the following years’ GAIA.
While offering nothing new or ground breaking, there is still enough on display here, especially for slasher aficionados, to seek this out. Coming on like a Young Adult mixture of its disparate influences, it can sometimes be a bit clumsy and maybe a tad predictable. It still remains to be seen if Bouwer will go further with his promising visual skills and otherworldly storytelling. Time will tell if this will become a curio of the genre or prove to be an interesting stepping stone in an interesting career. Either way, right now, it does the job of making for an evening’s sinister entertainment.
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans