This Aussie made genre film draws inspiration from a stack of films from the Australian New Wave of cinema and that's a good thing as films like Mad Max and Wake in Fright have an enviable pedigree.
Writer Angus Watts who was at the screening I saw and did a Q and A after it was open in saying he took inspiration from these films, most obviously in his choice of Broken Hill as a filming location.
And location is super important in this with the burnt earth, simmering sunsets and dust-bowl fictional desert town of Serenity Crossing all captured beautifully on the widescreen, giving this brooding outback thriller real grit.
The story opens with hotshot tech entrepreneur Ryan (Ben Geurens) coming back into town after 20 years to attend his father’s funeral. There he encounters his estranged brother Tyson who has been living a pretty bleak existence.
The town too is suffering, we hear of layoffs from the mining downturn (familiar terrain for our WA audience) and we see many shots of the parched landscape, the legacy of decades of farming and mining.
Beneath the ragged surface of the small town, Ryan quickly finds himself slowly entangled in a world of blackmail and crime. Such is the filth that simmers below even the town cop Sgt Harvey (played by the ever watchable Peter Phelps) proclaims "this town's due for a big f..king enema." And the Sergeant's profane prophecy may just play out.
In short, Ryan has to pay off town badass McRea to save the life of his brother, who despite leading a pretty sorry existence has committed no crime or wronged McRea. The pulp nature of this film is really dialed up in scenes with McRea and his henchman - they drink beer day and night, make and smoke meth and curse like sailors - and best of all they make their base inside a gnarly car wrecking joint.
With few old allies to call on for assistance Ryan turns to ex flame turned stripper Izzy, or rather she sees an opportunity for herself and expolits his vulnerability. The heist to get the requisite funds to pay off the goons takes a Tarantino-esque turn, that is both shocking and comic at the same time. And the fun doesn’t stop there with further turns as the film moves towards its conclusion.
First and foremost this is a thoroughly entertaining genre film but one that also seeks to make a comment although this can feel a little laboured. For example, perhaps we don't need as many decaying animals by the roadside to ram home the impacts of farming and drought and the addition of a sick child is a little bit of a contrivance.
But all in all, Locusts is very ably handled by acclaimed indie director Heath Davis (Broke, Book Week) and his ensemble cast including Geurens (Reign, Neighbours), Jessica McNamee (Battle of the Sexes, The Meg), Nathaniel Dead (Alien:Covenant) and Justin Rosniak (Animal Kingdom) bring vitality and gravitas to the script.
LOCUSTS is screening on July 16, 8.40pm, LUNA LEEDERVILLE.
Revelation Film Festival www.revelationfilmfest.org