Ozflix, the new streaming service whose Beta launched last night, has a simple, admirable remit: to provide a one stop shop for streaming Australian cinema. Based on what we’ve seen so far, they’re going to do a top job of it.
The Beta version of the site is easily navigable, with films categorised by genre (or “Stuff”, as Ozflix styles it – Funny Stuff, Cult Stuff, Scary Stuff). Apparently what we have here is a limited selection before the site officially launches, but it’s a pretty robust one: you’ve got all four Mad Max movies, crime dramas such as Romper Stomper and Animal Kingdom, plenty of comedy – Working Dog are well represented – and cult obscurities like The 25th Reich and The Search for Weng Weng. Recent work gets a look-in, too, such as the John Jarratt/Kaarin Fairfax two hander StalkHer and Filmink fave Is This the Real World.
Speaking of Jarratt, he’s front and centre of one of Ozflix’s original offerings, being the first guest on the talk show FAQ, which sees various Australian film industry greats holding forth about their work. Similarly, Matilda Brown, recently seen in The Death and Life of Otto Bloom, hosts FreshFlix, which focuses on new content on the service, while Glenn Dunks host Bytes, a quick highlight of one of the films in the current catalogue (right now that’s Mad Max, which is a bit of a gimme). @ The Flix sees Thomas Caldwell and Rochelle Siemienowicz discussing each week’s Monster Bundle of five films for a discount price, but we’ll get to that in a second.
Ozflix operates on a digital rental basis. You pay by credit card – $3.79 for most content, $6.79 for New Stuff – and you have two weeks to watch your movie, and a 48 hour window to watch it as many times as you like once you start streaming. All the original content is free at this point, plus there’s the weekly Monster Bundle which packages five films for $5.79 – at the moment that’s Wake in Fright, Plague, The Loved Ones, Black Water, and The Search for Weng Weng.
Taking a punt on Wake in Fright, we plugged in our card details and began streaming. Picture quality is full HD (indeed, there doesn’t seem to be an option or adjusting picture quality if you’re on a slow connection) and playback was smooth and free of lag or buffering. Given this is a Beta test there’s probably not a whole lot of demand on Ozflix’s servers at this point, though – things could be different under high demand.
Still, at first taste this is an excellent service with a well-curated catalogue aimed at audiences who care deeply about Australian content. Only a couple of niggles stand out: an alert that Wake in Fright was available in a bundle when we went to rent it would have saved us some money (we picked up the bundle anyway, which didn’t trigger a retroactive discount), and a subscription rather than a PAYG option would be nice (that’s just personal preference, though – YMMV). Those are just minor points, though – based on this early look, OzFlix is the real deal.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified John Jarratt as the host of FAQ.