After spending five in jail and remaining loyally silent, Jules (Paul J Murphy) is released and as a gesture of thanks, crime boss Senti (Gerard Kennedy) puts him in charge of the gang's Hobby Farm - a rural property operating as a hive of illegal gambling, drugs and sex slavery. When he sees the violent maltreatment of one of the recently kidnapped foreign girls by Senti's nephew Con (George Koutros), Jules feels compelled to overcome the demons of his own past and turn against the only life he has ever known - to try and save the girl and himself.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Debuting filmmaker Brad Diebert clearly has a feel for cinema; he's a natural, instinctive visual storyteller, although his excessive use of music - which almost wallpapers the film - tends to diminish the impact of both the music and the film itself. Diebert sets the mood before he starts telling the story so it takes a while to pick up the threads, as the recently freed Jason (Paul J. Murphy) takes up his post managing the Hobby Farm.
Clients come and buy drugs and girls at the farm, the girls being unwilling participants as sex traffic victims. This is meaty stuff but Diebert doesn't exploit it to the full. Often his main concern is with securing images that decorate, rather than visual that drive the action. But then he can also direct the action scenes and the tense car chase, with flair.
Paul J. Murphy's Jules doesn't seem like a hardened crim, indeed his redemption seems to have already taken place, judging by his kind bedside manner and concern for the girls. Much is made of Jules' childhood trauma with his father and their dog, which haunts him throughout, but this device fails to ignite for the audience, despite several references including a dead dog in the drive of the farm.
Most impressive is John Boxer as edgy detective Sienta, Vince Sorrenti as the bad Luca and Vincent Stone as nasty Fedi. Gerard Kennedy brings authority and mature acting chops to his role as the big bad man, Senti and Jessica Turner does the best she can with her role as the Polish victim Tatiana, while most of the other girls get little screen time and no lines.
I would have liked more clarity in some chapters of the story and more dynamic editing, as well as some of the hammy acting cleaned up - and less wallpaper music.
Review by Louise Keller:
He's just a bloke trying to do good in a bad situation. The bad situation is a remote property where nasty things happen. Sex, drugs and blood are the mainstay of Brad Diebert's film, where the protagonist is a bad boy with a conscience who spends the entire film chasing redemption.
Paul J. Murphy is solid as Julian, whose 'King' status at Hobby Farm is payment for keeping his mouth shut in jail. While the Eastern European girls who are forcibly engaged in the sex trade are being mistreated, Julian dons his headphones, lights a cigarette and turns a blind eye on the sordid goings on. He finds himself as the girls' protector by default. It's only when confronted head on with shocking ugliness that he finally has to commit and show his hand.
Diebert shows his directing flair, but the storyline confuses and spreads itself too far at times as blood smears the walls and bodies are cut down like wheat. There are undercover cops listening, individual hard luck stories, a rapist and murderer sent to toughen up Julian, and a recurring nightmare that begins with a young boy and a puppy. Good to see Gerard Kennedy back on screen as the boss who wants everything to tick along smoothly and Vince Sorrenti injects menace as Luca. The idea of using Andrew Giddings' music score is great with some scenes reliant on its impetus as the action plays out with no dialogue, but eventually is overdone - like the bloodied bodies.
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HOBBY FARM (MA15+)
CAST: Paul J. Murphy, Vince Sorrenti, Travis McMahon, Peter McCallum, Leanne Mauro, Lex Marinos, Gerard Kennedy, Josh Freeman, Dean Baker, Stephanie Begg, John Boxer, Brad Diebert, Jack Diebert
PRODUCER: Brad Diebert, Mal Cumpston
DIRECTOR: Brad Diebert
SCRIPT: Brad Diebert, Paul Murphy
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Brett Murphy
EDITOR: Brad Diebert
MUSIC: Andrew Giddings
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Peta Black
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Verdict Entertainment
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Melbourne: November 18, 2010; Adelaide: November 25, 2010; ACT: December 2, 2010