1988 / Director, Rolf de Heer.
Incident at Raven's Gate was undeniably ahead of it's time... well, at least when it comes to Australian cinema anyway. On a remote outback farm, a series of unexplained happenings have the owners scratching their heads. Their water is evaporating, their livestock is dying and their mental stability is slowly waning. This was Rolf de Heer's third film and he made the type of cinematic experience that can only appreciate with time. I can imagine it confused audiences at the time and the challenge was probably overwhelming. This is a UFO encounter movie unlike any other. There are no flying saucers or little green men and their visit is only implied. The film, instead, focuses on the people caught in the middle of it and the effect that the unnatural energy is having on them physically and mentally. I am blown away by it every time I watch it and I am always unsettled by it. Visually the film reminds me of Russell Mulcahy's work, particularly his style on Razorback and Rolf de Heer has drawn his influences heavily from European cinema... in fact this is about as close to Dario Argento's work as you can get. With eerie lighting, bright colour schemes and a mist machine, the film haunts you like a nightmare. There is one particular image and frightens me every time. Umbrella Entertainment have put the DVD together from a print copy (as opposed to a master), which for me lends itself to the horror. With scratches, glitches and cigarette burns still on the screen I feel like I am sitting at the back of a dingy little grind house cinema and the only thing missing is the sound of a flickering reel. Incident At Raven's Gate is exceptional filmmaking. Surreal, horrifying and daunting... it's a film that all fans of arty horror should see.