Ben Geurens, Nathaniel Dean, Alan Dukes, Steve Le Marquand, Justin Rosniak, Ryan Morgan, Damian Hill, Jessica McNamee, Andy McPhee
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…inventively shot and highly entertaining…
With his 2016 feature directorial debut, Broke, and its 2018 about-face follow-up, Book Week, writer/director, Heath Davis, marked himself as a filmmaker capable of making massive genre shifts, sliding from a gritty, bruising drama to a gentle character comedy with apparent ease. Both films were top-tier local efforts, and Davis delivers once again on his third time round (with credit to writer/producer Angus Watts, who receives equal top billing on the film), making another genre jump with the slippery outback thriller, Locusts. An obvious call-out to the seminal dust battered classic, Wake In Fright, it’s an inventively shot and highly entertaining reminder that what lies outside of our city borders isn’t always pretty.
When he returns to his small outback hometown of Serenity Crossing for the funeral of his violent, abusive father, big city tech success story, Ryan (Ben Geurens), is quickly reminded of why he left. Burned dry by drought and seemingly run on beer, it’s an ugly stain of a place. Ryan’s broken down brother, Tyson (Nathaniel Dean), is still there, and so are the debts left by their father, which finds the pair in the sights of a local crime boss (Alan Dukes) and his henchmen (Steve Le Marquand, Justin Rosniak, Ryan Morgan and the late Damian Hill). With only Ryan’s embittered ex (Jessica McNamee) and a family friend (Andy McPhee) on his side, the suited city slicker is way out of his depth.
Boasting a tight and twisting script from Watts and stunning imagery from DOP, Chris Bland, Locusts is the kind of film that we don’t see nearly enough of in Australia: a classy crime B-movie in the style of John Dahl or (early) James Foley. It’s elevated even further, however, by the stellar performances. Ben Geurens is totally empathetic as the harried hero, while Alan Dukes, Steve Le Marquand, Justin Rosniak, Ryan Morgan and Damian Hill (in his final screen performance) are absolutely stunning as the bad guys, bringing a wonderfully wild eyed brand of menace and madness to their characters. With Locusts, the third time is certainly a charm for the supremely talented Heath Davis and his partner in crime on this occasion, Angus Watts.