2014 / Director. Dane Millerd.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
So many filmmakers have me eating my words lately. I've been vocal about my distaste for the found-footage genre and yet over the last couple of years there have been some wonderful little films that have impressed the shit out of me... THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE PILLIGA is one of them. We follow two guys (Dylan & Jay) as they drive through a remote area in the northern regions of New South Wales. Dylan is a cameraman filming his mate Jay, who is a colourful, ocker trucker and they meet two drunk girls who agree to a late night new years eve adventure in the bush. Their escapade finds them venturing into the Pilliga National Park where things take a sinister turn and a local legend comes out to play. Director Dane Millerd has crafted his film with blood, sweat, tears and a hell of a lot of precision. While it presents itself as "found footage" the film actually evolves throughout its course and you become so enamoured with the characters, particularly Jay, that you forget about the format. Each of the players deliver convincing and sincere performances and none more mesmeric than Brendan Byrne who plays Jay. This guy terrified me. At first I thought him to be more of a caricature of the Aussie "bloke" but as the film played out I kept having flashbacks to folks I've met in rural Australia over the years... and it's fair to say that this is no caricature. He might not be a villain in this story but his outback Aussie-redneck-bogan-tendencies make him one scary motherfucker who could've easily been the love child of Mick Taylor and Chopper Read. The film's style, pacing and payoffs are all strong and Millerd effectively strings the first half of the story along at a meandering pace, allowing us to get comfortable with these characters so that when they are thrown into their hellish night of horror we are right there beside them. He also provides a believable reason for these people to venture out into the bush and avoids all of the contrived and cliched tropes of the genre. THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE PILLIGA is a strong, formidable and welcome genre-film that toys with exploitation and unearths a folklore that has been screaming to be told. Wherever you watch this fantastic new film, do it right... ie a dark space with maximum volume and total engagement!!