If this isn’t the first Australian horror anthology to take a mostly Aboriginal viewpoint, then it’s the first since Tracey Moffatt’s Bedevil (1993) … though Moffatt’s three-story film was conceived as an integrated work whereas this 75-minute picture consists of five shorts from different filmmakers, told in different styles (one’s in black and white), with a range of approaches … torture porn/revenge (Kodie Bedford’s Scout), paranormal activity (Lian Phillips’ Foe), small-town witchiness (Rob Braslin’s Vale Light), stylised gothic (Perun Bonser’s The Shore), and satirical gross-out (Bjorn Stewart’s Killer Native).
The overwhelming message is that white people aren’t to be trusted … whether they’re abductors/exploiters of Aboriginal women, the friendly-seeming nosy neighbour-witch-vampire next door or the clueless colonialists afraid of natives and blind to monstrousness. All but the final film have modern Aboriginal women as central characters, put into horrific situations that spring out of systematic oppression. Only Killer Native is actually cartoonish, but the tone of the other pieces – along with their brevity – adds up to a portrait of modern Australia as a stolen land.
In the 1970s, there was a boom in films associating Australia and aboriginal culture with mystic threats to white civilisation – The Shout, The Last Wave, Picnic at Hanging Rock – so it’s interesting that the theme has shifted around, with the European incomers now the threat (often a supernatural threat) to the original inhabitants of Australia.
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