Generating critical buzz over the past year, Australian horror-comedy romp 100 Bloody Acres has been germinating as a cult favourite across the globe. Set in a small country town, the film tells the story of the Morgan brothers – two Aussie battlers utilising dubious ingredients for their organic fertiliser business. The narrative stems from the minds of co-writers and directors, and brothers themselves, Cameron and Colin Cairnes.
“The film is about two brothers who don’t see eye to eye and basically want to kill each other. Like all siblings, we probably didn’t see eye to eye in our younger days. We both realised at a certain age that we wanted to make movies, and it turned out we wanted to make the same kind of movies. It’s actually been a very harmonious process. We’ll disagree on things, but that means we’ll work out the problem and come up with a better way of doing things. But I think most of the time we were in agreeance,” says Colin.
“Or agreement,” Cameron corrects, leading to a fraternal digression regarding the correct term.
The creative process is one enlivened by the sibling dynamic. “There isn’t a set system. For us, the writing [process] is more about talking, about us being in a room sharing ideas in the headspace of the characters – being happy with the way the story is heading and the way the characters are sounding. Then we’ll just divvy up the workload, break up storylines into sequences, concentrate on that, then when it’s all done we put it all together and see if it gels. Most of the time it seems to,” says Colin.
Mixing horror and comedy isn’t exactly a new concept. Humour, relatable characters and shock elements have come together to represent a nascent subgenre in itself. “It can easily tip over the top into that broad comedy when you are making horror comedy. It inherently lends itself to that type of humour with all the visual gags. It’s a delicate balance, getting those two elements right. In the writing, we were careful not to push it too much on the page,” says Colin. “The cast and crew got that, so it was never forced. We love the Scream films for example, because the scares work, but so does the humour. You care about the characters, they’re not just stereotypes – they’re playing on stereotypes, but they’re giving them heart and making them sympathetic. That’s what we tried to do with our characters, and I think we succeeded in that regard. It was partly the writing, partly the casting and party the execution. On set it wasn’t a case of ‘how do we makes things funnier?’ It was more ‘how do we stay true to these characters and the world we’re trying to create here?’”
The cast, led by Damon Herriman and Angus Sampson (replete with hearty chinstrap beard), prove more than adept at capturing that relatable charm amongst absurdity. “We were still casting a couple of months out from production. The first casting decision we made was actually the voice you hear on the on the radio, Bernard St John, who you hear broadcasting throughout the film. Then John Jarratt came in early on, which we thought was a really good start. Then when Damon Herriman’s audition tape popped up it was a no-brainer, he was our Reg. He’s just brilliant. We had worked with Angus Sampson before on a few things –a great guy with comic chops. Initially it was a bit of a stretch, because we pictured the character of Lindsay as being quite older, but Angus came in and did a read and just blew us away. It was a really fun process, all very last minute. But that’s the way it often is,” says Colin.
BY LACHLAN KANONIUK
100 Bloody Acresreleases on DVD and Digital HD on Wednesday December 11.