After a great deal of uncertainty as to when it would see a stateside release, Charlie’s Farm has finally landed on DVD in the US. It hits stores today and we have the lowdown on whether or not it’s worth your time.
In search of a little excitement, a group of friends trek to the Australian Outback to check out the locale where a young boy witnessed his cannibal parents murdered by an angry mob. The landmark where the murders transpired is now known as Charlie’s Farm. Even though the group is warned by locals to stay away, they are not deterred. They proceed to explore Charlie’s Farm and later live to regret their decision to do so.
Charlie’s Farm is written and directed by Chris Sun (Daddy’s Little Girl). It stars Nathan Jones (Mad Max: Fury Road), Tara Reid (Sharknado), Sam Coward (Boar), and Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th VII-X). Not surprisingly, the performances in Charlie’s Farm range from weak to reasonable. Tara Reid is perhaps the least believable of the bunch. But that didn’t do too much to take away from my enjoyment of the film, as a whole. Slasher films are not meant to be fine art. They’re meant to be fun and Charlie’s Farm is fun. Moreover, I’ve never seen a feature where Tara Reid exactly shined as a classically trained performer, so I wasn’t too put off by the absence of any real acting chops on her part.
Though we get a less than impressive turn from Tara Reid, Sam Coward really kind of shines as Donkey (a.k.a. Mick). He is affable and shows a level of depth beyond what was scripted. He’s not a particularly fleshed-out character on paper but I was impressed with what Coward did with Donkey in spite of that.
Bill Moseley delivers a good performance as Charlie’s father. He’s not onscreen a lot but he is good when he pops up. Neither Moseley nor Kane Hodder really have all that much screen time but it’s nice to see both of them, nonetheless. Kane Hodder basically just has a brief cameo appearance where his is on the other end of a phone call, delivers an exposition dump, and then briefly resurfaces in the third act. His screentime totals roughly five minutes. However, this is somewhat of a different role for him and it was interesting to see him in a non-villaneous turn.
One thing that bugged me a little is that the flashback sequences are a bit clunky. The first is told around a campfire and that works well enough but the one that comes after is basically just edited in, almost, at random. One of the characters narrates it but it still comes across as awkward and shoehorned in. It would have done wonders for the pacing to have the entire flashback sequence unfold as part of the campfire story.
Charlie’s Farm borrows quite liberally from pictures like Friday the 13th and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. For example: The scene where Charlie witnesses the killing of his mother is fairly reminiscent of Jason in the Friday the 13th franchise. Also, the core concept of a clan of backwoods cannibals (which includes Bill Moseley) is pretty Texas Chain Saw-esque. However, those elements don’t feel so much plagiarized from the aforementioned titles as they seem to be paying homage to them. Charlie’s Farm feels very much like a loving throwback to the slasher features that were hitting cinemas nearly every weekend in the late seventies and early eighties.
One thing that is decidedly different from most of the films to come before it is that the stocky, funny guy is naked more than any of the chiseled male cast members or even any of the female leads. And I respect that. It was unexpected but lent a bit of humor to break up the tension.
Another thing that stood out to me is that a lot of the characters are actually somewhat likable. I wasn’t aching to see them die. We spend a lot of time with them before they start to get massacred but most of them don’t outstay their welcome (I would have chosen a different character to face off with Charlie and a different conclusion but I don’t want to spoil anything for prospective viewers, so I will just leave it at that). Once the massacre does start, things get pretty gory. And some of the more intense sequences are pretty graphic but this is a slasher movie, after all, so I’m not complaining, just offering a disclaimer to the potentially squeamish.
You can check out Charlie’s Farm on DVD now. If you end up digging it, you can check out the official website here. The site offers Charlie’s Farm merch and much more.
WICKED RATING: 6/10
Director(s): Chris Sun
Writer(s): Chris Sun
Stars: Tara Reid, Nathan Jones, Sam Coward
Release: November 3, 2015
Studio/ Production Co: Alchemy
Budget: $3 Million (Estimated)
Length: 93 Minutes