Gillian Alexy, Luke Ford, Alexandra Nell, Tea Heathcote-Marks
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…a rock-solid homegrown thriller.
A prolific Australian writer/director/producer with an uncanny facility for turning out slick, accessible, decently budgeted genre films outside of the usual funding channels, John V. Soto is a homegrown wonder, getting his films made at a rate of knots while constantly working against the odds. He’s veered from a sexy thriller (Crush) to the supernatural (Needle) and sci-fi (The Gateway), with a police procedural (The Reckoning) wedged in there as well. With his new flick Avarice, Soto effectively dials it back to deliver an economic home invasion thriller fore-fronting a strong female character and built on basic, uncomplicated tension.
The disappointingly craply named Kate Matthews (Aussie actress Gillian Alexy, a growing presence on American TV with roles in The Americans, Damages and NCIS) is a wife, mother and competitive archer (you just know that’s gonna pay narrative dividends…and it does!) questioning the strength of her marriage to work obsessed Ash (Luke Ford) and her abilities to parent her difficult daughter (Tea Heathcote-Marks). Looking to come together as a family, the trio head to a remote holiday house, which is soon invaded by two paramilitary-style arseholes (Alexandra Nell, Ryan Panizza) who are quickly revealed to be after a lot more than just cash and valuables.
Though he can’t resist the temptation to work in some complex plotting (the motivations behind the home invasion are decidedly different to those in The Strangers and You’re Next), John V. Soto does essentially keep it lean and mean here, with limited locations and only a small group of central characters. Soto effectively ratchets up the tension from scene to gripping scene, and makes Kate such a strong, sympathetic figure – and the bad guys such reprehensible shit-heels – that audiences will likely let out a cheer when she gets out her bow and arrows and sets about using the villains for target practice. Smartly put together and entertaining, Avarice is a rock-solid homegrown thriller.