For horror fans disappointed with Netflix’s catalog, Shudder is your streaming alternative. In addition to a pretty impressive collection of 70’s and 80’s horror, Shudder platforms quite a bit of indie horror. Currently, Oz-ploitation flick, The Furies, is available for fans of more brutal, straightforward fare. This Down Under thriller promises a mix of slasher, survival horror, and a bit of science-fiction for good measure.
Out late spray-painting walls, rebellious high school friends, Kayla and Maddie, are abducted and separated by unseen strangers. When Kayla wakes up she finds herself trapped in a box labelled, ‘Beauty 6’. Soon she discovers she’s not alone. Other young women are lost in the woods with her. To make matters worse, masked men are stalking the women as sport. Determined to find Maddie, Kayla must fight her way through someone’s twisted game.
The Furies a Standard Slasher Despite Its Best Efforts
Writer and director Tony D’Aquino at least starts his slasher movie with potentially interesting ideas. Bits of The Hunger Games, Battle Royale, The Most Dangerous Game, and a little of The Den are mixed with a slasher’s ‘stalk-and-kill’ mentality. But in its opening moments, D’Aquino promises a more subversive take. When Kayla and Maddie spray paint ‘Fuck the Patriarchy’ on a wall before their abduction, The Furies positions itself to be more than a movie where masked madmen kill women. In spite of these intentions, The Furies is ultimately a movie about men killing women in brutal ways.
In spite of these intentions, The Furies is ultimately a movie about men killing women in brutal ways.
At just under 90 minutes, The Furies doesn’t offer much between its killings. D’Aquino, for instance, fails to embed his characters with much in the way of, well, character. And while some ambiguity is usually better with your monsters, The Furies’ masked madmen have neither purpose nor any discernible identity. While an epilogue widens the story’s scope – and promises a sequel – it feels both overly familiar and a little late. Aside from labeling his killers ‘Beasts’ and victims, ‘Beauties’, D’Aquino doesn’t do much with the subtext promised earlier. Even pairing each victim’s survival to a particular killer doesn’t produce the drama or tension it teases.
Budget Well Spent on Outstanding Practical Effects
Though The Furies isn’t particularly scary or tense, horror fans will likely be impressed with the movie’s practical gore effects. Arguably, The Furies boasts some of the most impressively disturbing death scenes in a long time. Right from topening, when a killer slices open someone’s stomach and intestines slip out, you know where much of the budget was allocated. Specifically, a scene where one of the ‘Beasts’ gives a ‘Beauty’ a ‘facial’ with an axe is both disturbing and visually impressive.
…The Furies’ ‘Beasts are largely interchangeable hulking masses …
Unfortunately, The Furies is missing something in between the carnage. As discussed above, D’Aquino doesn’t drum up much in the way of tension or scares. Most of the movie’s intended subtext is underdeveloped. Additionally, The Furies’ ‘Beasts’ are largely interchangeable hulking masses wearing the kind of creepy mask we’ve now seen in countless movies. None of the killers exhibit anything resembling personality. As a result, they fail to inspire any awe or dread.
The Furies Gets Assist From Strong Leading Performance
At the end of the day, audiences are most likely going to remember the gore effects. No familiar faces pop up in the cast. Nonetheless, Airlie Dodds, who plays ‘Kayla’, delivers a much-better-than-expected performance. Amidst carnage and a fairly one-note, gimmicky character, Dodds makes the slower scenes tolerable. She’s believe and sympathetic, giving the audience someone for whom to root. No one else in The Furies has much opportunity to make any sort of an impression. Another unknown, Linda Ngo, gets a bit of an arc, even it it’s somewhat predictable.
The Furies Struggles To Carve Out Its Own Niche
A strong lead performance, an affecting score, and some gruesome practical effects can’t elevate The Furies from mediocrity. Despite D’Aquino’s few efforts to tinker with a familiar story, The Furies isn’t much more than a simple ‘stalk-and-slash’ movie. On one hand, gorehounds will appreciate the gruesome death scenes. And The Furies boasts a better-than-expected technical prowess. Unfortunately, there’s little in the way of scares, tension, or suspense. As a result, The Furies isn’t likely a movie horror fans will re-visit.