The Furies, 2019.
Directed by Tony D’Aquino.
Starring Airlie Dodds, Linda Ngo, Taylor Ferguson, Ebony Vagulans, and Danielle Horvat.
A woman is kidnapped and finds herself an unwilling participant in a deadly game where women are hunted by masked men.
Tony D’Aquino’s The Furies reminds me, once again, the best video game adaptations aren’t based on actual property adaptations. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Hardcore Henry, and so on. Those who’ve played Friday The 13th: The Game will find D’Aquino’s Australian slasher quite familiar, as victims flee and hide from pursuing Jason Voorhees lookalikes. Yes, that description could fit *many* slasher frameworks – but The Furies tests higher for genetic gamer DNA than comparable titles. From first-person camera angles to rules that add fundamental obstacles versus straightforward “kill or be killed” violence.
The game begins when Kayla (Airlie Dodds) wakes up in a box labeled “Beauty #6,” surrounded by nothing but forest landscape for miles. She bumps into other frantic women, and then anonymous murders appear with their own unique weapons. Survival plans are simple: don’t get caught. Easy to say, but Kayla’s epileptic blackouts add layers of difficulty that places her at a disadvantage. Who would kidnap innocent females, stream their hunting as a sport, and lust after such brutality? Kayla’s operating table flashbacks give her an idea, but that won’t matter until she’s the last scream queen standing.
Simplicity is The Furies’ calling card, as universe building isn’t more than a few glances of an institution far larger than depicted. Where The Condemned or Death Race is about whoever could govern such brutality, D’Aquino remains within the boundaries of his deadly contest. As Kayla reveals why her “Beauty” coffin is labeled “#6” and subsequent “Beast” containers are also numbered, twisted links are discovered. Still, though, you’ll get nothing more than a final-shot pullout in terms of networks behind Kayla’s live predatory dodging. It’s slight, and leaves us craving more definition, but understandable given budgeting.
Now, let’s talk about where that budget was *rightfully* spent.
Reader, The Furies is a practical effects showcase. Some may find it difficult to watch male monsters – hulking overalled brutes in pig or scarecrow masks – savagely pick their prey apart. An early death where Mr. Axe Killer shaves one poor girl’s face off starting at her cheek is VILE and masterful. Another head-split reminds of Medina’s cracking of a demonized head in Deathgasm, except this time it’s the helpless victim who meets a hemorrhaging demise. Larry Van Duynhoven’s SFX work is everything horror fans adore and praise, squirting bloody slop with such vicious disregard for human life. It’s a lot to endure given the concept, but so impressive on any technical analysis. We’re talking “Best Kills Of 2019” accolades.
Those yearning for thematic resonance needn’t a microscope. As Kayla is told by her graffiti-prone friend, rules are meant to be broken. Then Kayla’s abducted and forced into some sadistic gladiatorial cat-and-mouse gauntlet, which she’s woefully incapable of handling until she starts banding together with other women. As a pack, they can “break the norm” and defeat their male adversaries. Doubled-down during the film’s final act when Kayla’s clued in to all the virtual hookups transmitting each slaughter. Translation: damn the patriarchy, do what needs to get done, burn it all down.
Artful mayhem – grotesque mayhem, at that – may not be enough for some. I do reckon D’Aquino thinks he’s vocalizing a louder message than conveyed given how excessively destructive deaths can be, but there’s merit in such battleground tactics. Dilapidated gold mining shacks offer Kayla protection from scythe-waving berserkers, while relationships with other women suggest how gender politics have ingrained such paranoia into everyday society. Maybe not the best translation through a graphic horror lense, but an anarchistic uprising story nonetheless albeit caked with grime, loss, and despair.
The Furies is a brutal gut-punch of – wait for it – furious horror brutality. Some will relish each and every glorious demise, others will question the ethics of a female-forward slasher that spends way more time victimizing its subjects than empowering change. I’m landing positive because I’m here for the satire on virtual reality experiences utilizing real contestants, and the bloodthirsty nature of human greed. More fleshed-out conceptualization (except during kill sequences, heyo) could have balanced messages of patriarchal angst, but there’s a lean, feral outback survival story to be “enjoyed” nonetheless. Stream it on Shudder, send the kids to bed, recoil over and over again.
In addition to streaming on Shudder, The Furies is screening as part of Australia’s Monster Fest in October and will then release in Australian cinemas from November 7.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Matt spends his after-work hours posting nonsense on the internet instead of sleeping like a normal human. He seems like a pretty cool guy, but don’t feed him after midnight just to be safe (beers are allowed/encouraged). Follow him on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd (@DoNatoBomb).