With a strong fright-fest bloodline behind the camera (Producer David Lightfoot was one of the Wolf Creek team; the visual effects crew worked on such sublime genre efforts as 30 Days of Night and Black Water) and a first-class local cast in front, Aussie thriller Coffin Rock is primed to attack – and unlike a lot of genre peers with similar themes (read: Prey) it’s actually got the teeth to do it: a tight, effective and genuinely unnerving script.
Jessie (Lisa Chappell) has been unable to conceive a child with her husband (Robert Taylor), despite years of trying. In a desperate and drunken mistake, she sleeps with a young stranger, the mysterious Evan (Sam Parsonson). Determined to prove his paternity, Evan’s intentions soon become borderline-psychotic and the young woman finds herself at the centre of a psychological and brutally physical battle that she must win if she is to survive and have the family she longs for.
Taylor (Rogue, The Matrix) and Chappell are terrific (especially good to see Taylor playing an Aussie again, having donned a Yankee accent for a couple of high-priced Hollywood blockbusters of late); however, it is newcomer Sam Parsonson (who some will recognize as Dylan from cable hit Love My Way) as the film’s “Glenn Close”, who truly impresses. Not only does the young actor mercifully master a believable Irish accent for the film, but he truly immerses himself in the role of the latently-schizophrenic desperado. It’s a very believable and frightening performance – one which is largely responsible for holding the film together. One that will ultimately turn heads.
The real star of the show though may be writer/director Rupert Glasson (Teratoma), who’s come up with a very entertaining, and very tense thriller that’ll make you think twice about dipping your pen in another’s ink. It’s not exactly brimming with fresh plot, but Glasson’s deft hand makes you feel like it is.
And there are moments in the film that won’t just have you on the edge of your seat but likely see you getting to know your pillow a whole lot better. In some respects, it’s even more frightening than Wolf Creek.
Okay yes, Coffin Rock is flawed, and of course you can pick holes in the script, but if you’re prepared to switch off, go with it, and just enjoy the ride… you’ll be treated to what’s possibly the most unnerving Australian thriller since Dead Calm.