Year: 2017
Production Co: Slaughter FX
Director: Chris Sun
Writer: Kirsty Dallas/Chris Sun
Cast: John Jarrett, Roger Ward, Melissa Tkautz, Simone Buchanan, Nathan Jones, Bill Mosely, Chris Haywood, Steve Bisley, Ernie Dingo

Being as big a fan of Razorback as I am, watching this was a no brainer, and I like to think director Chris Sun was as much of a devotee as I was. All I could hope for was that it had some cool scenes and effects, a halfway decent story and characters and dialogue that wasn't too on the nose.

And aside from some very ropey CGI scenes where broad daylight can't hide the low quality, I wasn't nearly as disappointed as I feared I'd be.

Like Russell Mulcahy's 1984 monster mash it takes place over a short period with only a few characters, the plot completely made up of their geography relative to each other and the titular beast.

It's another wild boar grown to freakish size in the outback (although it's a bit green for the intended locale, shot completely in Gympie as it was) that starts to encroach on human habitats when it realises they can slake its thirst for blood.

The characters are a roll call of stars from yesteryear. There are a pair of grumpy old blue collar blokes (John Jarratt and Roger Ward) who go camping in the bush and run afoul of the monster after finding some of its earlier victims.

A young family (Simone Buchanan is the mum) is visiting her country brother (Nathan Jones, the human block of granite who played Rictus Erectus in Mad Max: Fury Road) and all go bush for a day of R&R.

One of the old blokes has a grown daughter who runs the town pub (90s soapie star turned songbird Melissa Tkautz). Ernie (Ernie Dingo) is a frequent customer. Old Bob drives past to give a mouthful of cheek, and it's the beginning and end of Steve Bisley's involvement, making me wonder if he was cast just for investor interest or had a longer story that was left on the cutting room floor.

The machinations of where they all are and what they're doing aren't that interesting except to say that they're wandering around the bush at night, hiking, swimming, camping or drinking, and they're all going come across a giant, hairy feral pig, many of them coming off very second best.

Because it's working from the immortal Jaws template and doesn't deviate from the classic tropes (and nor should it), the script and direction by Sun has only a few potential tricks up its sleeve to give you the experience you expect from this kind of thing, and that's scares and gore.

There aren't too many of the former apart from a few mild jump scares, and it thankfully doesn't scrimp on the latter with human bodies impaled, sliced and dragged away by enormous tusks and a horrific, snarling and hairy maw.

So in getting all that stuff right dud performances and cack handed dialogue are the only things that could trip it up. While the performances aren't totally seamless (it's a bit too easy to see some of the cast trying), it keeps a lid on the worst of the histrionics and it has a naturalism that suits the subject matter well.

The puppetry effects are great but it's where the VFX takes over that it falls down, and I can't help thinking of the irony when I interviewed both Mulcahy and Razorback's animatronic creature designer Bob McCarron years back – both of them said a lot of the shots they tried to get at the time then would be done with CGI today.

But without $50m to spend at an international VFX vendor, the in-camera puppetry stand head, shoulders and tusks above the rest of the effects.

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