"Charlie's Farm" is one of those movies that to watch is to wonder what went wrong, because it seems certain that something did.
There are some basic things wrong with it from the get go, but these would be forgivable in a horror movie, especially if it delivers on the gore or, hell, maybe even a few scares. For starters, the dialogue and action of the characters feels unnatural. They make the decision to see the titular "Charlie's Farm" right at the beginning of the movie, a place once owned by a family of serial killers but now thought abandoned. You'd think they would either, one: require some convincing or strong justification to visit such a place - especially the women, who are generally less interested in such things, or two: be afficianados of the weird and macabre, in which case you could at least understand their interest in the setting of serial murder. They are not the latter and don't have the former. If the conversation leading up to visiting the farm convinces the characters, it doesn't convince the audience, so why show it in the first place? They could have just skipped it completely and begun the movie on the road, introducing the characters as connoisseurs of carnage like "House of 1000 Corpses", a movie the makers of "Charlie's Farm" have most definitely seen - they've even got Bill Moseley in this movie. He could've given them better advice.
The characters travel in the general direction of the farm where the killings happened, apparently having no idea exactly where it is - if a place where a bunch of people were murdered seems like a strange destination for a road trip with your girlfriend, how about a place you don't even know the location of? They stop in the requisite local pub to ask for directions, where, wouldn't you know it, all conversation immediately dies as soon as the protagonist mentions Charlie's farm. He is, of course, warned strenuously against visiting the farm - all the locals know it is BAD NEWS - but, for no real reason, he starts a fight with one of them, and he tells him exactly where it is for making him angry! It couldn't be any more obvious that the filmmakers needed the locals to warn the protagonists about the farm to build suspense - but also to tell them where it is to keep the plot moving. The attempt to start a fight was so lame and forced it leaves you wondering if the filmmakers couldn't have come up with a better way of having the characters find the farm, or make it more realistic that they'd get in a fight with a p'd off local.
All these things are problems that could have been fixed with a better screenplay. But now we are moving into the real what-went-wrong territory. For starters, this is an R18+ rated horror movie here in Australia... and there's practically no violence, nor any attempt to scare, until over an hour in. That's when, not coincidentally, the bad guy shows up, played by ex-wrestler and strong man contender, the giant and musclebound Nathan Jones. Casting him as the bad guy was about the only good idea the producers of "Charlie's Farm" had. But why do they make us wait so long before bringing him on screen? There is no suspense at all involved in his eventual appearance. He just shows up, and you expect him to apologize to his victims for keeping them waiting.
The movie does, then, make good on its promise and have at least a couple of creative death scenes, involving a penectomy - surprisingly rarely seen in horror movies - and the removal of someone's jaw, with an interesting shot showing what the victim's head looks like without the mandible.
Before we get to the kills, though, there is yet another improbable action on the part of the protagonists, and this time I'm not even sure it was necessary to move the plot forward. The set-up: the character and his gal-pal strip off (her not showing nudity) to swim in the creek. The girl spots the killer. He is, admittedly, one of the most fearsome looking bad guys I have seen in a horror movie. He is seven foot tall, deformed, covered in scar tissue, dressed in rags, and, to top it all off, with contact lenses making his eyes a colour no human eye ever could or should be. He also just has a completely deranged look on his face.
The girl is scared. What does the guy do? Does he suggest to the girl that they run away? Does he also get as scared as anyone would in that situation, and freak out beyond all reason? No, he gets out of the water, telling the enormous maniac to "piss off", and remarking to his (understandably) terrified female friend that "it's all right, I think he's a bit retarded".
Look who's talking, buddy.
It was unnecessary to have the protagonist approach the bad guy so moronically. And completely unbelievable.
After a while, and a few more kill scenes (though only one other really good one), the movie makes another questionable decision as it leaves us in the company of one Miss Tara Reid, she of the "rock scientist" fame. Reid was never much of an actress, granted, and I'm not sure what she's doing in this movie. The filmmakers were savvy enough to cast horror legends Bill Moseley and Kane Hodder, and even though they're both completely wasted, it does make you wonder - not for the first or last time - what they were thinking when they made that particular decision. Reid was hardly a star in '14, her heyday in "American Pie" some 15 years ago, and her looks aren't what they used to be.
And then, after a lame and unconvincing death scene, the movie ends. Just like that. The movie's snooze-inducing pacing, lack of gore or death except for only a couple of scenes, negligible usage of its only real stars, and completely unexpected ending and lack of resolution all add up to a big fat "what the hell happened?" Something must have gone wrong before, during or after. When the killer in a horror movie shows up and doesn't seem to belong, something is probably wrong with the movie from a production stand point. When the movie ends, and just feels like someone pulled the plug out of the TV rather than the movie actually ENDING, something is definitely wrong. Did they run out of money? Did the studio demand re-shoots or edits, or edits of re-shoots? Did some of the actors quit?
One thing that seems sure is: you probably won't care enough to find out.
In an effort to do something different, four friends head into Australia's outback to explore Charlie's Farm, the site where a violent family met their end at the hands of an angry mob. Despite all warnings, they persist in their horror-seeking adventure.
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June 24, 2015 at 03:34 AM