There is nothing like good old Ozsploitation where men are men and women are scared. From Australia comes a bleak little film that wants you to see the darkest possible intersection between a girl’s night out for four pretty coeds and three deranged serial killers who are out looking for sick unredeemable sport. The box copy references such Aussie horror classics such as WOLF CREEK and PRIMAL so you just know that it probably isn’t a depiction of life in the “Land Down Under” that would be authorized by The Australian Tourist Commission. From first time director Chris Sun comes a new film that seeks to lead us back into a nightmarish horror film world inspired by classic American horror films of bygone eras and ultimately to lose us in the dark. Let us answer the call of “Come and Get Me” and see for ourselves why it so brazenly provokes us in the name of simple entertainment.
First, I am going to say that, despite the fact that this is an Australian picture meant as a throwback to the misogynous 70s-style grindhouse roughies, the extreme violence in this film has a modern American sensibility to it, devoid of the nudity, sex, and, oftentimes (albeit unfortunately), rape, which would usually serve as the impetus for crowd-pleasing revenge. These tenants of classic sexploitation cinema are seldom seen in this type of film these days, although it is perfectly acceptable in American horror movies to show innocent, attractive young women being sliced, diced, and cut down in the prime of their lives for no greater offense in this world that being in the wrong place in the wrong time. Murder is seen as somehow more humane, perhaps because the victim will not live a life of cultural shame and private regret? While no one knows for sure, this sensibility is uniquely American. The Japanese, for example, have no problem whatsoever with depictions of rape in a horror film as a plot point, yet the onscreen depiction pubic hair is absolutely forbidden at all times. It’s all about what society is willing to accept at a given time.
I’m not bringing this up because I mourn the lack of sexual violence in today’s horror cinema, but rather the fact that films such as COME AND GET ME – in this case, an otherwise technically competent no-budget thriller - has sadly-but-deliberately associated itself with a long dead form of sexist celluloid, but, in catering to the tastes of modern audiences, has eschewed the hallmarks of the genre it’s aping. At best this is deliberate false advertising, and, at worst, a major marketing malfunction. Because conservative viewers now make up an ever increasing part of the mainstream horror movie audience demographic, there is no way that scenes of stark, senseless, sexualized violence will ever yield the same acceptance as they once did in the days of grindhouse, and as much as I like my women’s prison pictures, I think this change in trends is largely functional, healthy, and especially hopeful for those of us who crave modern, more respectful depictions of women. That being said, however; as a fan of those old sexploitation films, I’m going to cry foul when I see it.
So what is left in a sexploitation thriller when you take away the sex? In the case of COME AND GET ME, you get an admittedly exciting chase through the forest as four young ladies flee from a trio of insane outback assholes who are easily instigated to fits of blinding murderous rage by the slightest sign of disrespect, especially by a female. There is a bit of plot play as we watch the girls getting stranded at a big city night club with no way to get back until the clearly murderous bad guys end up driving them “home”, but it’s little more than an obvious, quick-and-dirty setup, as most anyone will be able to discern what will happen when the two vastly different groups of friends “get together”.
Those who like horror films that detail the everyday lives of groups of killers such as Rob Zombie’s “Firefly Clan” or fondly remember what dinnertime looks like in any Texas Chainsaw Massacre film will be quite underwhelmed by the trio of bad boys from COME AND GET ME. They are largely devoid of individual flavor, motivation, or characterization, save for the distinctive way they curse or shriek with delight as they strike down an innocent person with glee. Some critics have said that this complete lack of “deep, distinct personality” regarding the film’s three killers makes the film all the more stark, sad, and realistic. Maybe, but I was hoping for just a little bit of villainous fun and entertainment value here, what with this being a “fictionalized account” and all.
The film’s crowning achievement lay in the special effects work; a masterful use of old-school latex used to simulate the sobering, splintering shock of actual physical violence onscreen. While too many underground films are now experimenting (usually unconvincingly) with cheap digitized effects to simulate the aftermath of injury and violence, the use of practical effects gives COME AND GET ME an authenticity that is unsettling, especially when fused with the spotty sound quality and bad lighting that’s endemic in the film’s forest sequences.
COME AND GET ME won several awards at Bloodfest 2011 under the categories of Best Actress, Best Editor, Best Special Effects, and Best Director. I admire the technical skill that was required to make this dumb, exquisitely pointless film as visually realistic as possible. I didn’t love it, but it was the best kind of awful, even if it’s so called distinctive Australian tribute to “authentic” sexploitation wasn’t nearly as “down under” and “dirty” as they claimed it to be.
Extras include Directors commentary and a trailer vault.