Wildly over-the-top new film Beaten to Death gets its graphic point across
Although many horror movies deal in the supernatural or villains who defy the laws of nature, sometimes the most horrific things imaginable are those done by regular human beings. The new Australian film Beaten to Death takes that idea and runs with it, serving up some of the most chilling scenes in recent memory.
The film, directed by Sam Curtain and written by Curtain and Benjamin Jung-Clarke, throws the audience directly into its gory story, opening with Jack (Thomas Roach) covered in blood and stumbling over a barren landscape somewhere in Australia. A flashback to 48 hours earlier shows him getting beaten to hell by another man for unknown reasons, with Jack’s wife Rachel (Nicole Tudor) lying dead nearby.
The 90-minute film tracks Jack as he does everything he can to survive. It features flashbacks to Jack and Rachel’s life together and flash-forwards that give the audience information they don’t have in “current” scenes, both of which serve to illuminate a situation that is unknowable at the beginning. The one thing that ties them all together is a brutality that is extreme even by the standards of horror movies.
For genre aficionados, it’s best to go into the film with as little knowledge as possible, as the twists and turns it takes are what make it successful. Suffice it to say that the film earns its horror bona fides both in its storytelling and graphic sequences. Jack’s knack for surviving is inspirational since, as the protagonist, you want him to live, and also something that stretches the bounds of believability, even if Curtain ties up most of the loose ends.
The explicit nature of the film’s horror scenes is what will grab most people’s attention, and rightfully so. But despite the film containing copious amounts of blood, it’s the aural parts of the film that do as much to up the intensity as the visual ones. Much of what Jack goes through leaves an indelible optical mark, but a few scenes leave the viciousness up to the viewer’s imagination, and somehow that makes the experience even more powerful.
The film does contain some leaps of logic that take it back a peg or two, even if you give Curtain the benefit of the doubt in some of the situations. However, the film moves at a quick-enough pace and contains enough ultra-violence that anything that doesn’t make as much sense is soon forgotten.
The actors are all Australians who have yet to become known to American audiences, but that anonymity serves them well in the film. Roach’s character is put through the wringer, and he truly makes you feel every punch he takes. David Tracy is as menacing as they come, especially because he plays his character in as normal a way as possible.
With a title like Beaten to Death, you have to deliver the goods, and it does in almost every way. This type of horror movie is clearly not for everybody, and even those who get a vicarious thrill in witnessing people getting brutalized may find themselves begging for mercy.
Beaten to Death is now playing in select theaters.