A long term labour of love this Aussie independent horror film first saw the light in 2001 as a short film before Simpson expanded the storyline and started filming the long version in 2003. It took until 2006 to complete it with a volunteer crew, a cast of unknowns and more balls than Wendy O Williams.
Kicking off with an opening segue of yabbie races, roadkill, powerlines, dirt tracks and railway lines in washed out black & white with spatterings of colour you straight away get the feeling that this is not your usual horror/splatter fare. The story starts with city slicker Joe Melton (Nathaniel Kiwi) wandering into the local roadhouse in Miranda Falls on Christmas Eve to stock up on cat food where he meets Kylie (Laura Hesse) and they do that flirty ‘new boy in town’ stuff (and I come from the country, Simpson nailed that scene perfectly) before Joe is then accosted by a local who in a tribute to F13’s Crazy Ralph babbles about the signs and the evil before downing a tinnie. Joe then goes home to feed his cats but they don’t come for their tucker before sitting down to start his article on the evils of advertising. Meanwhile Kylie’s workmate Sally Winters (cover girl Hollie Kennedy) can’t get hold of her mum on the phone and is starting to worry about her. Things start to get a bit weird here. Joe wakes up to see something bloody and disturbing, he runs out of the house, the scenes fall apart, the colours wash out, the picture starts to drag and roll and stutter and I’m sitting there thinking, I’ve had this feeling before, what is it? Before I can work it out though, young Joe has stumbled upon the Winters household only to find blood, guts, grue and the entire family massacred in their lounge room. Seems Sally’s brother Jack was killed just a few days before in a car accident and now he’s back looking like a poorly paid extra from a Marilyn Manson video and he’s chowed down on the family and Joe’s moggies! Joe runs into the night only to bump into Sally who has arrived home to find her family dead and the weird city guy covered in their blood. Fast talking ain’t gonna get him out of this situation especially when the local cops find all his dead cats and Sally nailed to a tree. Of course, being possessed by demons, Sally ain’t really dead but her initial discovery by the local coppers, based by the way on the two dingbats from Debbie Does Dallas 2, is a good laugh but a real waste of a good looking sheila. (much the same as Debbie Does Dallas 2) Luckily Joe manages to convince Kylie that things aren’t quite right out there but not before Sally pays them a visit.
It was about now too that it dawned on me – the fucked up flickering vision, the gap toothed fading out, the hazy pictures, the black & white movies, the split screens and blank memories… this is exactly like the end of a three day bourbon bender complete with DT’s, blurry nights, stumbling around on unlit roads in the dead of night, too bright mornings, blood all over yr clothes, monsters lurking, faces fading in and out… this is a horror movie not for the drug fucked but the booze fucked!! And when the local cop Sgt Harding (Peter Roberts) started talking to himself before reaching for a bottle of Jimmy Beam to neck, well then I knew I was on the right track. And though the pacing and style made me occasionally think I was watching an SBS late night short film with the use of colour, the split screens and blurry vision not to mention the hand held claustrophobic camera work I forgave Simpson – its a case of knowing your limitations and using them to your advantage. And when was the last time SBS showed a Demon-Noir flick drenched in bourbon, beer and blood anyway?
And despite the artistic bent when the demons are unleashed it’s a frenzy of blood, guts and grue that’ll have the horror geeks popping their loads in very short time. Throw in Joe in a dress carrying a talking axe (just a touch of Bruce Campbell there) car wrecks, dead bodies, demons on park benches, the copper with a drinking problem, parasitic eels and an advertising guru bastard arsehole (Ed Winters played by Peter Roberts in a dual role though you wouldn’t pick it) and you’ve pretty much got country life in Australia nailed.
Okay maybe not the advertising guru but hell he’s really just the arrogant bastard who always stands at the back yelling out advice at the footy or cricket, who could run the country and still be home in time for tea if only someone would listen to him but is never there to clean up or sell raffle tickets or help out on working bees or remember his wife’s birthday… every little town has a family secret they try to hide away, little monsters and demons they don’t want people to know about, it’s just in this town it turns out to be the bloody devil himself. This is supposed to be a film that is having a dig at advertising and marketing but to me it’s a movie about life in the country. Either way, it doesn’t throttle you with the message, just lays it out there for you to find.
Forget Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, forget all those high falutin’ arty champagne sippin’ aussie directors – Christ those fuckers wouldn’t know how to have a decent bender anyway… this is the real Australia, this is the real deal. These bastards are gonna turn the industry up on its head, or at least they’re gonna gate crash the party, drink all the piss, crack onto the hostess and not remember a thing in the morning. And as for Stuart Simpson I only have one thing to say – you silly, twisted boy.
- Diary Of A Demon – behind the scenes featurette
- Deleted Scenes
- Photo Gallery
- Sickie – short film