The Horror Honeys: Nothing Stays Buried, Especially the Past

Nothing Stays Buried, Especially the Past

A Revenge Honey Review

 Acolytes (2008)

When the neighborhood bully has “cunt” tattooed on his knuckles, I think it’s a safe bet that he’s not just stealing kid’s lunch money. This bully’s release from prison is the starting point of the Australian horror/thriller, Acolytes. When I started Acolytes, I was expecting another Ozploitation film along the lines of Wolf Creek or The Loved Ones, but instead I was surprised by a tense, dramatic, and genuinely sick revenge film that would put most American horror movies to shame.

Horror Honey Helpful Fact: For those of you that don’t know, Ozploitation is a subgenre of the exploitation film based in Australia and comprised of horror, comedy, or action films that were made on the cheap. The movies usually feature intense gore, bad effects, and lots of cheesy sex scenes: all of which add up to a shitload of tacky awesomeness. Some seem to consider Acolytes one of these films. I do not.

Acolytes begins with your typical Australian teens, James, Mark, and Chasely (Chasely is the girl and spends the movie dating James but flirting with Mark, the little hussy!), smoking dope and hanging out after school, looking for a little mischief. However, James and Mark carry the burden that they were both raped as boys by the local thug, Gary (Michael Dorman) who has just been released from prison and is now strolling about their neighborhood. In a strange twist of fate, the trio of teens witness another man (Joel Edgerton, sporting the world’s best creepstache ever) burying the body of a young girl in the woods, and rather than report him to the police, they decide to blackmail him into carrying out their revenge for them. 

Unlike the in-your-face horror and gore of the typical Ozploitation fare, Acolytes embraces the more recent Australian trend of subtle, slow burn tension and scares that lie in the subtlety of realistic terror. Not only are these boys constantly running from the monster who ruined their childhood, now let loose on their streets against, but they are also entangled in the web of a charismatic family man/serial killer with some seriously killer facial hair. (HA! Killer. I’m funny.) But the best part of Acolytes is, even when you think you’ve pegged down where the movie is headed, the movie throws you for every possible loop.

If you know the meaning of the word “acolyte,” you probably have some vague idea where the movie is heading, but I wouldn’t even dream of giving you any clues as to how insane the last 30 minutes actually get. The true impact of that insanity is entirely thanks to the skill of Joel Edgerton, who actually doesn’t even speak his first line until the film is almost half over. While Edgerton has played mostly likeable, dashing sorts in his American films thus far, the charming serial murderer he portrays in Acolytes is truly one of his best roles. Even when he is screaming in the face of a defenceless woman, there is something controlled about him. It’s a performance that should have been heralded as genius in America, assuming Americans had the attention span for thrillers where shit isn’t blowing up every two seconds. 

In the end, the message of Acolytes is that blackmail only works when you genuinely have something to bargain with: something that would be pretty near the top of the Revenge Honey List of Shit Every Honey Should Know (Copyright and Trademarked, The Horror Honeys, 2013). As the situation begins to spiral out of control, and the horrible pasts of the teens begins to seep to the surface, it becomes clear that no one will really escape Acolytes unscathed. However, even when you think the movie is finally letting you off easy, it does the Australian thing, and gives you one last image that will thoroughly fucking haunt you long after the film is over. Damn those Australians; they know how to make a brutal revenge thriller. And one that is 100% Revenge Honey approved.

Revenge Honey Stabby Points: 4 out 5