An innovative filmmaker doesn’t necessarily need a lot of money to realise an ambitious, large-scale idea, as the likes of Primer, Safety Not Guaranteed, Monsters, Cube and a host of others have amply proven. You can now add to that list the Australian flick, Reaching Distance, which joins a growing collection of savvy local genre efforts (Infini, Terminus) that have successfully put vision above budget. The debut feature from writer/director, David Fairhurst (going the distance after a handful of shorts), it showcases a potential player-to-watch who grinds every ounce of value out of what he has at hand: a single location, a fascinating concept, and a small cast of enthusiastic, engaging actors.
When the mentally unbalanced Logan (the charismatic Wade Briggs) – who also has a photographic memory – finds himself on a graffiti-splattered late night bus, he very quickly realises that things are far from right. As well as the business-suited man (Matt Day, generously lending his industry cache to the project, while also delivering a fine performance) who may have caused the road death of his sister, there are other people from Logan’s past on the bus: a nurse (rising star, Morgan Griffin, from San Andreas and Spin Out) who claims that she knows him; her angry boyfriend (Meyne Wyatt); two teens (Sophia Forrest, Anna Bauert) that Logan confronted in a cinema; a reserved bus driver (Frederick Hama); and an unhinged homeless man (Eddie Baroo) who slowly starts speaking a strange kind of sense.
Right from the off, Reaching Distance boasts a heady, trippy ambience that keeps you guessing at every turn. At first it feels loose and freewheeling, its hectic editing and whirring camera work giving the false impression of a film about to tip out of control at any second. Fairhurst’s assured storytelling, however, rapidly kicks into gear, and it becomes obvious that he’s been intentionally unsettling the viewer, lining them up for a series of narrative punches that drive home what is ultimately a finely composed tale of redemption and hope. Punchy and compelling, Reaching Distance is a smart, inventive slice of local genre filmmaking.
Reaching Distance is screening in a series of one-off events. For venue details and booking info, click here.