When Ophelia (Viva Bianca), with her newborn baby Adam in a pouch, finally finds the remote property in the bush where her sister Maggie (Belinda Cotterill) is living with boyfriend Weaver (Chris Sadrinna), she expects to find a peaceful haven. But Maggie seems deeply disturbed and when she goes to town for supplies, Ophelia is left alone with Weaver, whose charming exterior covers a psychotic personality. Adding to Ophelia's discomfort is the arrival of a bikie gang led by Turps (Jeremy Lindsay Taylor), on whose behalf Weaver is growing some expensive bush weed - the security of which Ophelia's presence threatens. When Weaver's games get out of hand, Ophelia has to try and save herself and her baby from both Weaver and Turps.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Based on a true story, Sam Genocchio's thriller has all the hallmarks of a natural filmmaking talent, aware of the various tools and tricks of filmmaking to generate psychological tension in the viewer. Although the film begins slowly, Genocchio works hard to establish the key characters in a variety of short scenes, with details of their surroundings providing clues, especially into Weaver's mindset. His fascination with ancient Druid rituals adds welcome texture and interest ...
Chris Sadrinna creates a fascinating psycho, always edgy, never obvious and yet deadly, ominous - his good looks work to heighten the contrast between his appearance and his inner turmoil.
Viva Bianca gives Ophelia a cleverly created dimension which pays off when the final twist is revealed, and Belinda Cotterill makes the most of a short but crucial and memorable cameo as Ophelia's troubled sister. Jeremy Lindsay Taylor is especially impressive with just a handful of scenes in which to establish character and create tension, and Malcolm Kennard adds useful interest to his supporting character of Mal.
Paul Howard's excellent cinematography is a major contributor to the film's tone, as is Veren Grigorov's moody, multi-layered score.
The film's only real weaknesses are the absence of a clear explanation for Ophelia's behaviour (explained by the filmmaker as a psychological post-trauma syndrome) and her sister's actions, is compensated by the tone of intrigue that keeps us engaged as well as by its craftsmanlike elements - and of course, the performances.
Review by Louise Keller:
Three interesting stories intertwine in the middle of the Australian bush. There's a smiling woman carrying a baby in a sling, a dope-smoking man who likes playing extreme games and a band of bikies with a serious eye on their illegal business. It's all part of Sam Genocchio's vision for a low budget Aussie thriller and the result is a spooky original whose quirky characters leave a haunting mood.
In the opening scenes we meet Viva Bianca's Ophelia, striding purposefully through the bush, a baby incongruously captive in a comfortable sling. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and the setting picturesque, as she heads towards a remote farmhouse. A distant gunshot is the first ominous indication that life nearby is not as idyllic as it seems. Chris Sadrinna's Weaver is a wonderful character whose idiosyncrasies are apparent the minute we meet him, when Ophelia knocks on the door. The large chopping knife with which he is chopping parsley glints menacingly when the conversation tilts to a sensitive topic, and when he suggests he and Ophelia play monopoly, there's a sense of the absurd as two knives rest either side of the board. Sadrinna makes the most of every screen moment: his performance is excellent. With the unexpected arrival of the intimidating bikie gang, we wonder what will happen next.
Genocchio uses sound, music and lighting to great effect to establish tension and mood. Paul Howard's cinematography, showcasing the beauty of the bush (that magnificent tree with the gnarled bark), is terrific. A violent thunderstorm, lightening and shadows are key in how he makes us squirm on the edge of our seats. I especially like the way piano and violin are used and the interplay between Ophelia and Weaver is one based on anxiety. The scenes in which Weaver cools off under the spectacular waterfall are intriguing and Jeremy Lindsay Taylor is credible as Turps the bikie chief. There are few plot holes, namely in the relationship between Ophelia and her sister (Belinda Cotterill, memorable) but the premise holds well as we are led through twists and turns and Genocchio ably shows us how to deliver an excellent genre film with a tiny budget.
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BAD BUSH (MA)
CAST: Chris Sadrinna, Viva Bianca, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, Malcolm Kennard, Michael Labram, Belinda Cotterill, Andrew Hunter, Ron Mowday
PRODUCER: Samuel Genocchio
DIRECTOR: Samuel Genocchio
SCRIPT: Samuel Genocchio
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Paul Howard
EDITOR: Andreas Gruber
MUSIC: Veren Grigorov
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alex Mattila
RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: VeniVidiVici Films
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 4, 2009 - selected cinemas