Friday, June 5, 2009


This is one of the greatest movies hardly anyone has seen. It’s well-paced (much more so than Faust was), has a good deal of action, and even veers full-bore into some Lord of the Flies-type territory toward the end. Also, it’s Australian, so everyone has just adorable accents in it.

Our heroine is a young schoolteacher in rural Australia, who is teaching her class when they are interrupted by a gang wearing Santa masks, who kidnap everyone at gunpoint. The class is locked up in a cave, but manages to escape, leading inexorably to a surprisingly tense and bloody confrontation with their kidnappers.

The main thing that works with this film is how clever the characters are. While the fact that the class is of wildly varying age (something I hear can happen in rural communities, though I normally associate such phenomena with schoolmarms in westerns) does lead to a moment where a stupid little girl completely botches an escape attempt, for the most part the characters are able to think of ways to escape and defend themselves from their attackers. This is a major step up from most horror movies, where characters mostly have a tendency to actively seek out their deaths by the most stupid means possible.

There’s also some great tension to the film, as the villains are also pretty damn smart. They’re somewhat able to anticipate what the class is going to try to do, and even when they can’t, they’re still the ones with the guns, so how about that? And yes, as mentioned before, it ends with a fairly shocking amount of violence for a movie that’s comparatively restrained up until the climax, and for a TV movie to boot. It provides us with a nicely shocking, and wonderful, ending to a classic film.

Rating: ****