The Horror Honeys: Being a Parent is the WORST!

Being a Parent is the WORST!

A Revenge Honey New Release Review by Linnie

Strangerland (2015)

I have always said that my favorite horror films are the ones that focus on the everyday horrors of real life. Supernatural serial killers, angry girl ghosts in your TV, baby-eating demons... these are not issues you are likely to encounter in your day-to-day. However, when it comes to situations like those encountered in Kim Farrant's Strangerland... they happen every day and they scare the ever-loving crap out of me.

That's why, for its faults, I think Strangerland is one of the more frightening films I've seen in 2015.

The Story: Matthew and Catherine Parker (Joseph Fiennes and Nicole Kidman) have recently moved with their two children to the middle-of-nowhere desert town of Nathgari. Son Tommy (Nicholas Hamilton) is a wanderer, an independent young boy who likes to be on his own and hates the structure of small town life. Fifteen-year-old Lily (Maddison Brown) is a wild child, a poet and artist, and the reason the family had to move in the first place. When both Tommy and Lily go missing in a MASSIVE dust storm, the fractures in Matthew and Catherine's marriage begin to show, and they must come to terms with the past that brought them to Nathgari in the first place.

Strangerland is a film that hinges entirely on the performances of the cast and they are, across the board, exceptional. I've never been a huge fan of Nicole Kidman's, but in the last few years, as she's worked more on smaller, indie projects, I've begun to see sides of her that are far more interesting than her box office roles. As Catherine, she turns in one of the most raw, the most exposed, and the bravest performances I have ever seen from her. The character is sympathetic, and then utterly not, devastating, and then infuriating, but at every turn, it is never less than what you could imagine a terrified parent experiencing in the wake of losing both of their children at the same time.

Fiennes' performance as Matthew is equally as fascinating. Cold, confused, and emotionally distant, he is a character that acts as both, at times, a red herring, but never less than the petrified father of a teenage girl. As you watch Strangerland, you are left questioning the sanity of any parent raising a teenage girl in this world, whether its North American or the barren deserts of Australia, because it must be little more than a constant exercise in paranoia and fear. Fiennes portrays this seemingly thankless role with steely reserve, and despite a bit of a faltering accent here and there, he does an excellent job.

Also featured in Strangerland is Hugo Weaving, who isn't only a horror/sci-fi mainstay, but rightfully, one of Australia's most cherished actors. He isn't given much to do in the film as the local sheriff tasked both with finding the Parker children and dealing with the emotionally fragile Catherine, but he is a nice anchor as the film's emotional rock. The moments when we learn a little more about his character's life are wonderful because it's always a pleasure to watch Weaving act, but the do occasionally feel like they're slowing down the central story.

Which is to say the central mystery, the missing kids, is so upsetting, and so world-shaking, that it hovers over every moment. The more you learn about the Parkers, and what brought them into their current situation, the more you can understand why their marriage is in shambles and why they are so protective of their children. But what Strangerland sets out to tell you is, you can do your best to hide your kids from the world, but the world is always going to find your kids, one way or another.

Strangerland isn't an easy film, and it isn't fun, but it's gorgeously shot and directed, bravely acted by strong leads, and as upsetting as any horror film you'll see this year.


Strangerland will be available in theaters and onDemand July 10, 2015!

Do you have a favorite Australian horror movie?
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