starring Simone Buchanan, John Jarratt, Melissa Tkautz, Bill Moseley
written and directed by Chris Sun
by Walter Chaw Chris Sun doesn't appear to have any boundaries, at least when it comes to violence and gore in his movies; over the course of four films, he's proven himself to be a vital voice in splatter/exploitation. He dealt with cultures of masculine toxicity in Come and Get Me and pedophilia and vengeance in Daddy's Little Girl, before hewing closer to the genre line with a straight inexorable-killer slasher flick (the ferocious Charlie's Farm) and, now, eco-horror, with his really fun Boar. An odd, mostly inappropriate comparison can be made to the Coens' early career, in which it seemed like they were trying to cover every genre in turn: Here's this guy knocking off horror subgenres with films tied to each other only by their grisly extremes. Eco-horror was popular in the United States in the immediate aftermath of Jaws, because films like Grizzly and John Frankenheimer's Prophecy could be pitched simply as "Jaws in the..." The trend peaked with Australian Russell Mulcahy's Razorback, featuring almost impressionistic work from The Road Warrior DP Dean Semler. Mulcahy's film is unexpectedly artful, almost lyrical in parts, until the end when it pays out in nihilism. For my money, of the two mid-Eighties releases inspired by the death of Azaria Chamberlain, the infant who was carried off by dingoes, it's better than the one that sticks to the facts (A Cry in the Dark).
The deaths by boar are spectacularly bloody and carried off for the most part by a pair of boar puppets--one to move about, one to ram cars--that required teams of puppeteers to handle them. The creature looks great, all gnashing tusks and rolling eyeballs. People you don't expect to bite it die in ways you could not have predicted--and then there's that scene where Bernie unsheathes his massive, professional-wrestler arms and punches the crap out of the monster. Boar is broad, silly, gleefully disgusting stuff that takes real pleasure in its excesses. There's subtext to unpack here, but when the mayhem starts, the mayhem is the focus. It touches all the bases: the camping scene, where a dark shape casts a shadow across the back of the enclosure before hell comes; the old codgers talking about what they've seen and stories they've heard while being dismissed by folks who would benefit from listening; the petty conflicts between couples that are generally resolved at the end of a pig tusk. It's a throwback picture in a lot of ways, a piece that would have been at home on a video-store shelf, housed in a blister pack between Xtro and Blood Beach. I hear that Sun's next project is a ghost movie. I'll be there for it.