With a loving wink to Russell Malcahy's 1984 cult classic RAZORBACK, Sun has taken his inspiration and crafted an all new giant pig flick, which is neither a remake, re-imaging or reboot. It is, rather, an audacious new creature-feature, showcasing a smorgasbord of legendary Australian talent, offering a no-holds-barred exploitation of the genre.
Live stock have gone missing in a small country town and two drunken farmers come face-to-face with a gigantic wild boar. Having stumbled upon the mangled remains of a camping party, the two men – with plenty of booze and not enough ammo – must fend off the beast singlehandedly before it kills again. Meanwhile the Monroe family arrive in town to visit a relative and while spending an idyllic afternoon swimming in the river, they too become prey for the marauding creature's insatiable appetite.
It is a simple and somewhat contrived synopsis, and yet with Sun's reliable direction it adheres to the genre's conventions, manipulating the tropes to its advantage. Setting it apart from other creature-features is a smart script, which presents a kaleidoscope of nuances to create a uniquely Aussie flavour. With a cast of notable Australian actors including Simone Buchanan, John Jarratt, Roger Ward, Melissa Tkautz, Hugh Sheridan and Nathan Jones, as well as American horror legend Bill Moseley, Sun has aligned himself with the right people to pull off this quirky and truly ocker story.
Jarratt and Ward play the two drunken farmers whose onscreen chemistry is wonderful, and with their characters leading the first half of the story, they provide a hilarious (and surprisingly endearing) comical crux that prevents the film from taking itself too seriously. Their banter is wildly amusing and both performers share a natural rapport with one another. The second half of the story is lead by Buchanan and Moseley, who play parents to teenagers Christie-Lee Britten and Griffin Walsh, and their chemistry is also evident. Moseley offers a more subdued performance to what fans might expect and his gentle 'bird-watching' demeanour couldn't be any further removed from the Otis Firefly and 'Chop-Top' Sawyer that he's so famous for. Buchanan, on the other hand, is BOAR's emotional anchor and she delivers a level of depth and raw emotion that is rare within a movie of this nature. Her performance is so strong that it's almost too good for a typical genre-film, thankfully her place within the narrative is – indeed – the heart of the story.
The rest of the ensemble includes Hugh Sheridan as the daughter's boyfriend, Nathan Jones as the hulkish uncle and Melissa Tkautz as Jarratt's daughter; owner of the local pub. They all give unexpectedly strong performances, with Tkautz being the obvious stand-out. Stepping away from the glamour of her Real Housewives of Sydney persona, she roughs things up – dressed in jeans and flannies – and embraces her inner-bogan with open arms. She's wonderful on screen. Other familiar faces include Ernie Dingo, Steve Bisley and Chris Hayward. It is a gaggle of Aussie misfits who give the film an added credibility. Hayward's character serves as a cheeky nod to RAZORBACK, which he starred in, and will put a smile on anyone geeky enough to recognise the reference.
It would, however, be disingenuous to ignore some of the film's shortcomings, which include a handful of poorly crafted CGI effects and editing which is quite jarring at times. Sun uses an equal measure of practical and digital effects to create his monster, both of which to positive and negative effect. It is a sight to behold when the characters are face-to-face with the creature, and to see them interact with a live-action creation is certainly gratifying... and yet when the boar attacks and the camera is capturing a wide shot, the ineffectiveness of the practical effect shows. The same can be said for the digital boar, which appears all too animated in some sequences, yet entirely realistic in others. With that said, it is to his credit that Sun had the tenacity to create such a big and ferocious monster, and were those aforementioned elements better concealed, he would have delivered an powerhouse of a horror movie.
Nevertheless BOAR is a fun, atmospheric and highly entertaining creature-feature which proudly boasts endearing Aussie mannerisms while offering a brand of horror, which will appeal to audiences all over the world. It also serves as Chris Sun's most accomplished film to date.