Directed By: Jody Dwyer
Starring: Nathan Phillips, Leigh Whannell, Bille Brown
Tag line: "Every body has different tastes"
Trivia: Was part of the third After Dark Horrorfest in 2009
As a horror film, director Jody Dwyer’s Dying Breed is perfectly serviceable, offering up moments of genuine terror as well as some convincing gore. But if it’s originality you’re after, you’d best look elsewhere because there’s nothing in this 2008 movie that you haven’t seen before.
Following a sequence that transports us all the way back to 1824, in which an Irish prisoner known as “The Pieman”, aka Alexander Pearce (Peter Docker), resorts to extreme measures to escape police custody on the island of Tasmania (at that time, Australia was still a penal colony for the British), we jump forward to modern day, when Nina (Mirrah Foulkes), a student from Ireland, travels with her boyfriend Matt (Leigh Whannell) to Australia in the hopes of tracking down a Tasmanian Tiger, a creature that the scientific world believes has been extinct for 100 years. Matt, an Aussie who moved to Europe years earlier, contacts his old friend Jack (Nathan Phillips) in the hopes he’ll be able to join them on this quest. Sensing a chance to make some big bucks (after all, it isn’t every day you snap a picture of a supposedly extinct animal), Jack gladly tags along, as does his girlfriend Rebecca (Melanie Vallejo). For Nina, though, there’s a lot more at stake than fame and fortune; she’s hoping to prove that her sister, who mysteriously drowned 8 years ago while looking for the Tiger, was on the right track.
So, off the four go into the forests of Tasmania, eventually arriving at the backwoods town of Sarah, where, despite a few uncomfortable moments with the locals, they rent a couple of rooms for the night. The next morning, they climb into Jack’s motorboat and make their way up the river (which, like many things in this area, is named after the Pieman), setting up camp near a deserted cave. But there’s something more sinister than a Tasmanian tiger lurking in the surrounding woods, and unbeknownst to our adventurers, it’s had its eye on them ever since they arrived in Sarah.
There are more than a few horror clichés to be found in Dying Breed. Arrogant twentysomethings traveling to a place they know nothing about? Check (to be fair, only Jack is arrogant, but he’s so annoyingly cocky that he more than makes up for the rest of them). A dark, foreboding forest cut off from the rest of the world? Check. Inbred locals who act as if they have something to hide? Check. POV shots that suggest someone, or something, is watching our heroes? Yep, you guessed it… Check! Even a few of the so-called twists at the end aren’t much of a surprise. In fact, I’m betting that by the time all hell breaks loose, you’ll have figured out for yourself what’s going on.
I certainly don’t mean to steer you away from Dying Breed. As I mentioned above, it’s not a bad little horror film. The opening scene, where we meet The Pieman, gets the story off on the right foot, and across the board the performances are better than what you’d expect from a movie full of formulaic characters. In addition, there’s plenty here to keep the gore hounds happy (and from the looks of it, the effects are practical as opposed to CGI). In the end, Dying Breed isn’t the kind of movie that will set your world on fire, but it’s not a total waste of time either.