(Shudder Exclusive) The Furies Explained-Hostel Gets A VR Upgrade
Gory from the beginning, The Furies is a pedal to the floor, grip your seat, don’t blink, runaway train that delivers nonstop horror.
The Australian Shudder Exclusive premiering today is a slick survival story with no shortage of killing. It is playing at Australia’s Monster Fest later this month and then will get an Australian cinema release on November 7th, 2019. Lucky Shudder viewers get it early! It is a thrill ride from the very beginning and never lets off the throttle. With excellent performances, a great sound design, effective practical effects, and roller-coaster pacing this is one film that should not be missed.
When our protagonist and her friend are kidnapped right off the street and wake up to find they have been deposited into a savage landscape of hunters and prey, she must learn to fight or die. Kayla(Airlie Dodds) is an unusual beauty with emotive eyes director Tony D’Aquino uses smartly. As much a story about finding herself as survival, The Furies is unique as it crams all the emotional weight of vulnerability and self-discovery along with hideous murders. It’s no small feat to walk the tightrope between corny and gruesome. Dodd performs both ends of the spectrum very well. The remainder of the cast is perfunctory as the men never remove their masks and the other women have mostly bit parts. Fellow survivor Rose(Linda Ngo) is given the largest camera time following Kayla and does an adequate job of descending headfirst into her own madness in different measures from her first scene on.
The mostly monochromatic coloring is effectively used to highlight the gritty setting and contrast with the scant “other place” scenes that are so intriguing. The set pieces are minimal relying primarily on the innate weirdness of the location itself. Abandoned gold mines, dilapidated buildings straight out of the backwoods’ killer playbook, and dead nature all make for creepy imagery. Framing of the multiple panning scenes, as well as interesting mixes of wide shots and closeup focusing, deliver inherent fear in even the most mundane. The sound design is amazing and truly adds to the dirty dread of the film. Flies buzz, dead leafs crunch, and mask-wearing nut balls grunt in concert with the visceral sounds of gushing blood. It an immersive assault on your senses.
Don’t get it twisted this movie is soaked in blood. Runny blood, sticky blood, organ covered blood, and spurting blood. You name it, the prop designers have covered it. Costume design is hyper-detailed with specific attention paid to the masks and various adornments some killers wear. The coverall costumed baddies wear unique masks that are horrifying and have body parts strapped on them like some kind of insane Mad Max villain (think Immortan Joe if he, you know, wore people’s ears). The shadow corporation behind everything is never seen except for brief moments of stark surveillance and computer screens. It’s as if the girls were kidnapped by The Cabin In The Woods people and then hunted by the Reavers from Firefly.
The practical effects are spectacular. Everything from amputations(including a full face amputation) to evisceration is shown in agonizing detail. The camera does not shy away from the brutality. Bone, brain, tendons, and eyeballs are all dangled front and center, daring the viewer to look away. I have to admit a few scenes that genuinely made me squirm. We even explore the idea of the squirm itself, with a particular scene that is so gag-inducing I needed a minute. Not necessarily for what happens on screen as much as for what we KNOW happens off-screen.
For all the straightforward violence there are several clever questions that the movie asks. First, what are the furies? They are Greek Erinyes, also called Eumenides. They are revenge-seeking Goddesses filled with rage and virtually limitless in their pursuit of violent justice. From the beginning, the kidnapped girls are pitted against one another and their pursuers for no purpose other than cheap entertainment. That some of these women broke and became beings of intense anger and destruction is no surprise. How they chose to channel that emotion allows for a satisfying conclusion.
Second, what’s with the surveillance? Strange visions come to Kayla each time she has a seizure confusing reality and a different perspective. Who is watching and why is only partially explained by the end. The girls all have ocular implants that provide real-time coverage of the hunt. Kayla is able to plug into those views when she is seizing. Her initial weakness becomes her strength. She is smart and her visions allow her to piece together what is happening and how to ultimately win the game and escape. Tech companies run by greedy, perverted men are a common trope. In Furies, it is never fully explained who is calling the shots, but in a twist, we find it’s a woman who is the coldest of those seen. The ice to Kayla’s fire is a showdown that is set up to play out after the credits roll. Borrowing a page from Eli Roth’s Hostel, there is evidently a vast network of terrible humans(mostly men) who love to torture and kill for pleasure. I guess it isn’t enough to exert power and control, they need to engage in all matters of perversion. The possibility of a sequel going in a completely different direction could be fun.
Lastly, what is with the killers? They are not explained at all, but they appear as varied in size, shape, and personality as the girls they hunt. The girls come to realize they each have a protector. One of the masked men is tasked with saving each of them. The remainder of the girls they hunt and mutilate. When their charge dies, their head literally explodes. It does beg the question, why bother killing anyone? After the first death, wouldn’t everyone just sit down and refuse to play? Instead, these men, who seem to understand exactly what is at stake, revel in the pain and death. Choosing body parts to wear as terrible leg warmers, and killing with ridiculous vehemence they double down on their unwinnable position.
The Furies is an intense film bathed in blood and baptized in sci-fi themes. There are some questionable plot holes that are really more plot devices than anything. For its flaws, this film is about gore and violence and those things it does very very well. Forget the plot, lean into the killing and enjoy the ride. Stream it on Shudder today and prepare for the onslaught. There will be blood