In Greek mythology, the Furies were three goddesses of vengeance and retribution who punished men for their crimes. In Australia, not so much, as leaving aside the film’s epilogue, the most feminist thing about writer/director Tony D’Aquino’s nasty and pointless debut feature, The Furies, is its title. 

Riffing on the likes of Battle Royale and Turkey Shoot, The Furies sees Kayla (Airlie Dodds), the world’s oldest teenager, and her BFF Maddie (Ebony Vagulans) abducted off the street while indulging in a little late-night feminist graffiti. Because nothing threatens the patriarchy like spraying “Fuck Patriarchy!” in an underpass…

Waking up alone in a coffin-like box in the woods – emblazoned with “Beauty 6” – with fragmented memories of experiencing some amateur eye surgery, Kayla sets off to find Maddie, encountering more lost women along the way and a hulking masked brute, a “Beast”, with an axe who chases them through the woods before turning one of Kayla’s need friend’s faces into a canoe. 

Deducing that they have been ensnared in a nasty life-or-death? game, Kayla realises that each Beauty has a corresponding Beast who must protect them while hunting and killing everyone else for the amusement of a paying, male, audience watch the action on tiny cameras implanted in the eyes of both the Beauties and the Beasts, experiencing both the thrill of the chase and the terror of the victims. Luckily, Kayla’s epilepsy gives her an advantage, allowing her to tune into the hunters’ cameras during her seizures (because that’s how epilepsy works…). Banding together with some of her fellow Beauties, Kayla gets tooled up and races to find Maddie before it’s too late…

As nasty, brutish and stupid as I’ve just made it sound, The Furies may be even nastier and stupider, delighting in the gory splatter of its effects as faceless, voiceless men slice, dice, maim and eviscerate a bunch of perky young(ish) women who panic and trip over handy tree roots a lot. And by a lot, I mean every woman appears to have the coordination of toddler. They get chased. They trip. They fall. They take an axe to the face or a scythe to the guts. On to the next, lather, rinse, repeat.

The performances for the most part are bland but efficient, only Top Of The Lake’s Linda Ngo standing out (and not in a good way…) as the childlike Rose who appears to nurture a closeted Sapphic passion for Kayla that borders on the sociopathic and the plot makes little sense the only justification for the onscreen mayhem being “It’s a fucked-up world full of fucked-up men.” But, is it? Is that a good enough explanation?

Bored by the complete absence of tension, cheesy practical effects, creaky dialogue and just passable performances, I found myself wondering increasingly about the plight of the Beasts. We know what happened to the Beauties. We saw Kayla and Maddie get abducted, operated on, dumped defenceless in the woods. But what about the Beasts? How did they get skin in the game? Did they volunteer? Surely not. Every time a Beauty dies, her corresponding Beast dies too, the camera in his eye, detonating his skull. Sure, chopping up women might be fun for your average fair dinkum Aussie bloke, but not even the most committed misogynist signs up for that. Not even an Aussie. 

So, the Beasts must’ve been kidnapped too, operated on too and then dumped in the woods with orders to kill or be killed, denied a voice, or even a humanising face by the masks they wear, forced to kill, to destroy, for the amusement of an unseen audience, an audience like us who desire the scopophilic pleasure of witnessing, of enact the movie’s violence. Arguably, we should feel as much sympathy for the Beasts as we do the Beauties. A better film might have explored that. The Furies is not that film. The Furies is simply a nasty, brutish little film for people who want to see some pretty but curiously sexless women take an axe to the face. 

Arrow Video Frightfest Review: The Furies
2.0Overall Score
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