There are two things Australian horror does very well: Psychos, and giant killer pigs. Acting as a sort of spiritual successor to the 1984 monstrous, man-eating pig flick, Razorback, Boar delivers plenty of gruesome piggy terror, but, contrary to popular Australian dining, is severely lacking in meat on the bones…
…Written/directed by Chris Sun (Charlie’s Farm), Sun’s latest feature is set in the ruthless Australian outback, where a family has just arrived to visit their uncle Bernie (Nathan Jones). The trip soon turns deadly though when an enormous, killer boar decides to start cleaning his teeth with the bones of the locals.
And that’s really about as complicated as it gets. Boar boils down your average creature feature to its basics, delivering on all of the essentials such as loads of gory carnage and a practical FX creature to die for. But if you’re looking for anything more complex than that, Boar isn’t it. Not that you’d expect much plot from a film like this, but there’s a tusk-sized hole in the script where some semblance of story should be, and all of the blood-soaked mayhem can only fill so much of that.
I know, I know, you’re thinking, it’s a movie about an oversized murder pig, who cares about plot! Let me explain. A lot of my criticism has to do with the characters and their relationships. I don’t mind that we know nothing about the boar or where it came from. Actually, I prefer that. The problem here is that the people populating Boar have so little going on in terms of both character and relationships with others, that the excellent cast can’t make up for it, as hard as they try. And this cast is excellent. Boar features the likes of horror icon Bill Moseley as cowardly step-dad, Bruce, actor John Jarratt, playing an entertaining, drunk hunter, the opposite of his psychotic role as Mick in Wolfcreek. Not to mention Jones, who is a ball of comedic energy and easily steals the show despite the talented cast around him. I’m convinced now that Jones should be in every giant monster movie so I can watch him punch it in the face with his massive fist.
Sadly, this cast is mostly wasted, as their characters are reduced to one-note people whose sole purpose is to line up as boar fodder. With very little conflict going on between these characters, there is no B-plot to help keep the story interesting whenever our killer boar isn’t snacking on locals too dull to be in the film for more than a few minutes. At least give me some greedy mayor who doesn’t want to shut down the town because of all that tourist money! These people have no goals, or needs, or really much personality outside of Bernie and Ken, who aren’t even presented as our main characters. Most of the cast, especially Robert (Hugh Sheridan), is reduced to typical slasher tropes of just wanting to get laid, with Robert obnoxiously bragging about fucking Ella (Christie-Lee Britten) in front of her whole family, including Bruce, brother Bart (Griffin Walsh) and mother, Debbie (Simone Buchanan). This is a cast of characters that are almost completely inconsequential to the plot, and will have you praying for the inevitable appearance of the hungry boar. And that’s when Boar gets good.
Sure, there’s not much plot and the characters might as well be walking, talking steaks, but where Sun and his crew really shine in this film is in giving us a ton of blood-drenched carnage. Boar is a guts to the wall, gory creature feature that doesn’t skimp on the red stuff. Our title creature goes wild, ripping off heads, goring people with his big-ass tusks, and running around with them like human chew toys. The FX team in particular deserves a standing ovation, as Boar satisfies the creature feature fan in all of us with a huge, practical monster that looms over its prey and is sure to instill terror in viewers. The sounds this thing makes are enough to get you trembling in your seat, and the sight of this creature will have you screaming “fuck, yes” so loudly that the entire outback will hear you. Boar is impressive to say the least when it comes to its effects, outside of a few quick moments done with some Syfy channel quality digital FX.
Unfortunately, many of the kills in Boar are bogged down by uneven pacing that causes the suspense to come to a screeching halt. Many of the best moments in Boar are either too quick or too long, with one scene in particular between Ken and his buddy, Blue (Roger Ward), staying well past its welcome as the two argue about who should go back to the car for guns after finding a dead body. Boar has all of the potential to be a highly entertaining, over-the-top gore fest, yet does it’s best to boar you with uninspired framing and a lackluster score, both of which do little to build genuine excitement. Like I said before, Boar is a purely by the book creature feature without much of its own style, and it consistently reminds us of that.
When it’s all said and done, Boar is an uninteresting though ultimately satisfying monster movie that doesn’t ask you to do much other than enjoy buckets of blood, making it perfect for a lazy, Sunday afternoon with some shrimp on the barbie and a case of Fosters.
Boar roars onto Shudder on June 6th.
By Matt Konopka