Director: Chris Sun
Cast: John Jarratt
Watch Boar online in the UK: 2018 (Date TBC)
You can count the number of giant pig movies on one hoof. At the other end of spectrum to Princess Mononoke comes Boar, a creature feature that spells its great threat out in its name.
It’s not long before we glimpse the oversized beast, with attacks on livestock, fences and people already underway when the film begins. In time-honoured tradition, we don’t see the monster in full; we hear it, its grunts and squeals accompanying scratches and growls. But, of course, there’s no surprise in knowing where we’re headed: a full-on encounter with a horned, hungry, hoofed beast. And between then and now can only be a string of increasingly graphic deaths.
This is the primary problem with Boar and films of a similar breed; the title tells you all you need to know, and the rest is killing time until a pay-off that’s hopefully as fun as the initial concept. The real risk, then, is a bore, rather than a boar, and it takes a sense of humour, a knowing understanding of gore or some compelling characters to fend off that threat.
It helps that Chris Sun, who is no stranger to over-sized monsters in the Australian Outback, is right at home here. (One of his characters even drops a reference to his previous film. “I’ve seen Charlie’s Farm,” one of them quips. “There are creeps out there waiting to cut you up.”) The director comes up with an inspired concept to hook his film around: every member of the cast is someone who has already been in Aussie horrors before, but playing the bad guy. Here, they’re our heroes, from Mad Max’s Roger Ward, The Fringe Dweller’s Ernie Dingo and, yes, Charlie’s Farm’s Nathan Jones. Chris Haywood, who was in 1980s porcine thriller Razorback, also makes an appearance.
Front and centre is John Jarratt, the iconic slaughterer of Wolf Creek’s film and TV series. He sports a knife, but he’s actually a friendly soul, and seeing him in a well-meaning role with a charismatic grin is worth tuning in for alone. While there’s a fun streak of humour to the knowing casting, though, that doesn’t help to build an ensemble of emotionally engaging characters; the banter is amusing, but a genre classic needs more than a game cast to make an impression. Fortunately, there’s enough fun to found in the practical effects that power the actual Boar, which doesn’t disappoint when it finally rears its head, from bodies hanging from its tusks mid-attack to a more-than-liberal splashing of the red stuff. It’s no Princess Mononoke, but when it comes to basic creature feature thrills, this knowingly daft monster hunt is prepared to go the whole hog.
Boar will be released this autumn by FrightFest Presents, following its premiere at FrightFest 2018.