In the second feature from filmmaker Donna McRae (Johnny Ghost), Lucy, a young woman played by Adele Perovic, spends time roaming through the woodlands, her red jacket in sharp contrast to the greenery that surrounds her. It would be a postcard moment of peace and harmony, if it weren’t for the isolation that underscores this scene and several others. Lucy is in hiding, sheltered in a cottage set up by her sister. And whilst she waits it out till she can go back home, an unseen presence within the cottage is trying to reach out to her.
Ostensibly a gothic-tinged Aussie ghost story, Lost Gully Road’s simple premise is one from which the director, along with her co-writer Michael Vale, manage to explore a less supernatural societal issue; attitudes towards women. It’s not just the presence that haunts Lucy which appears to have unclear boundaries of acceptable behaviour. From the minute Lucy arrives at her temporary home, she comes under scrutiny from those she meets; particularly the local shopkeeper Brian (John Brumpton), who makes a simple transaction into something more salacious. Much is made of Lucy’s mental health and whether what’s happening to her is part of that illness. Rather craftily, by doing so, the film makes the audience complicit to some extent in Lucy’s treatment by making them question what’s truly happening to her.
All of the above gestates in a slow burner of a tale that doesn’t feel rushed to get to where it’s going. Some may find the pace too languid for their tastes when it comes to things that go bump in the night. However, spending so much time with Lucy as her days of isolation blur into one, gives the film a dark brooding sense of fear. Like the everyday micro-aggressions that can wear out a person, it’s not Lost Gully Road’s shocking and brutal ending that does the most damage, it’s being witness to the small things that led us there.