As a long time fan of the horror genre, I always find it exciting when a filmmaker tries to mix up a tried and tested formula.
That is not to say all these tests work or push the genre forward, but experimentation helps keep things fresh and gives way to new, inspiring ideas. The Furies from Writer/director Tony D’Aquino takes on such a difficult task, and while it is not a total success in reinventing the formula, it a blast to watch thanks to some fantastic effects and concepts.
Taking notes right from Predators (2010) playbook, the Furies follows a series of women as they are kidnapped and dropped into an old mining camp and forced to fight for their lives. The film focuses on Kayla (Airlie Dodds), a young woman who suffers from epileptic episodes, who, despite her best efforts, is viewed as a burden on her friends. As she wakes up in an odd, black coffin in the middle of the woods after being abducted, we get a sense of how alone, isolated and scared she truly is. Yet, with a drive to save her friend Maddie she struggles to uncover the truth of what is going on and survive this waking nightmare.
On its surface, The Furies plays pretty close to the genre it is trying to build on. There are a bunch of women all looking to survive, and a bunch of masked killers, all looking to take them down. D’Aquino tries to inject some new ideas into the formula to mixed results. Instead of the usual single slasher, there are now many, all with and twisted masks, all brandishing various forms of sharp objects to cause as much harm as possible.
D’Aquino also manages to mix up the power dynamic at play, pairing the woman with specific masked killers linked, making for some brutal choices as the film progresses. And even with these ideas, The Furies still falls for many of the pitfalls of the genre. Dialogue is often a means to an end, with many of the lines feeling silly or forced. And the motivations and reason behind the “death game” never feel fully understood or would stand up to much scrutiny.
But as the title suggests, this is a film focusing on its woman, and D’Aquino delivers on this for the most part. While the call to Greek mythology is an interesting touch, it does little for the actual film. Yet, even with that criticism, this is a movie that gives its characters power, motivation and drive beyond the need for or to be saved by men. If nothing else, it is something more films in the slasher genre should try can carry forward. And despite any criticisms I may have, Dodds takes the character of Kayla and makes it her own. She brings her A-game to the role making it a joy to watch whenever she is on screen.
The setting of a gold mine in the Austrian outback works very well for telling this brutal tale. The mysterious, isolated nature of the old town makes for a raw brutal space to let these characters dismember and maim with no fear of anyone disturbing the carnage. While the mystery at the heart of the film may not make complete sense, it is good they got the setting perfect to play their Hostile like death game.
While the story may not push any boundaries, the violence and practical effects will sit with you long after you turn the movie off. The deaths in The Furies are as brutal and bloody as anyone could want. From face filleting to cutting a head in two, D’Aquino walked right up to the line on what was tasteful and possible in modern horror, and it works.
With The Furies, D’Aquino paints a brutal picture of a future where money will pit every-day people against each other. The only problem is not everything at play in the film works. There are some great concepts on display and the brisk 83-minute runtime fly by. But like a fast-food, it is tasty while watching, but ultimately shallow at its core. While it is a treat for gorehounds or audiences that love a good practical slasher kill, viewers looking for more depth from their horror may want to look elsewhere.