Saturday, 16 June 2012

Needle (2010)

Here’s a cracking little Australian horror film that’s a combination of supernatural thriller and good old-fashioned giallo that keeps you guessing until the end.
Ben Rutherford (Michael Dorman) is a college student who inherits an eighteenth century mechanical device called Le Vaudo Morte from his father. One night, at a party with his close friends he shows them the device and shortly afterwards it’s stolen. At the same party a photograph has been taken of the group and soon they’re beginning to die in horrible ways. It turned out that Le Vaudo Morte is a Victorian Voodoo revenge machine (how wonderful is that for a concept?). All you have to do is slip a photograph of your intended victim into the top of the box, pour the requisite mixture of blood and wax into the device, and a wax doll is created that can then be mutilated according to the tormentor’s wishes. That the tormentor in NEEDLE does this wearing black leather gloves and the torments in question include some quite spectacular and creative death scenes (in some cases in front of incredulous witnesses) means that NEEDLE does a fine job of referencing its horror heritage while at the same time remaining very much something that feels fresh and original. To me Australian horror has tended to mean movies set out in the wilds of the country like WOLF CREEK, LONG WEEKEND or even ROAD GAMES. With its glossy photography and slick characterisation NEEDLE actually feels more like an Italian film made on a US college campus, and I mean that very much as a compliment. The acting is pretty good as well, with all the characters coming across as better drawn than the average FINAL DESTINATION shreddie (and I love those films too). 
      It’s probably worth bearing in mind when reading this review that I’m a sucker for anything that includes nasty Victorian mechanical devices a la Guillermo del Toro’s CHRONOS, but I’m certainly going to look out for the next work from director John V Soto as well as chasing up his previous effort CRUSH. NEEDLE is really pretty good and certainly deserving of more genre love and attention than it seems to have got. Any more of these and I’ll have to start an Australian Giallo section.

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