Given that Storm Warning is a considerable notch above many of the recent horror films to make their way to our multiplexes - such as the tired Saw and Hostel franchises and the recent raft of recylced Asian horror – it is a shame that it is heading straight to DVD.

Don't be put off, Jamie Blanks' classy film has more in common with old school vengeance thrillers such as Deliverance and Straw Dogs than the more recent raft of torture porn. It also shares several common ideas with the equally watchable Teeth - due out on DVD later this year - although the latter looks for laughs, where Storm Warning opts for a more sinister style. Best of all, like Teeth, it has a decent central female character, who doesn't need to get her kit off to make us care about her.

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Nadia Farès - in her first major English-speaking role - is the girl with guts. When she and middle-class hubby Rob (Robert Taylor) find themselves, quite literally, stuck up the creek in the Aussie boondocks, they head to a nearby farmhouse for shelter. It is, as tradition dictates, a dark and stormy night and it isn't long before this little Goldilocks and her man encounter the three bears – and they are definitely the bad news sort.

When brothers Jimmy (David Lyons) and Brett (Mathew Wilkinson) find the pair holed up in their kitchen, they waste no time in showing their propensity for violence - although it is to the director and veteran writer Everett De Roche's credit that the first part of the film relies more on a sense of building dread and emotional trauma and tension than more overt tactics. Jimmy and Brett may be scarily off-the-chart, but even they are frightened of waking their Poppy (a wonderfully malevolent John Brumpton). So desperate times call for desperate measures.

These, generally involve Farès's petrified Pia turning into a sort of MacGyver with menaces as she tries to save herself and her man in a set of events that should see even the most avid gorehound sated.

The film moves along at a crackling pace and the action shifts slickly from gathering menace to outrageous violence without missing a beat.

De Roche - whose previous cult hits include Razorback and Long Weekend - shows he has ideas that can go the distance (this script was originally penned more than a quarter of a century ago) and keeps enough humour in the dialogue to provide plenty of contrast with the tension.

Blanks, freed from the constraints of the studio system after Valentine and Urban Legend, lets it all hang out when it comes to pouring on the blood and achieves a very high gloss look even on a much tighter budget than he has previously commanded. He also proves to be a very capable scorer - with a soundtrack which evokes memories of John Carpenter.

While Storm Warning may not be breaking new ground in terms of plot development, its verve and charm - coupled with excellent performances from Lyons, Wilkinson and Brumpton - raise it effortlessly above many other offerings in this crowded subgenre. De Roche and Blanks have teamed up again for a remake of Long Weekend, due out in the not too distant future, on the strength of this, it will be well worth looking out for.

Reviewed on: 21 Apr 2008
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Storm Warning packshot
Two yuppies run into trouble in an isolated farmhouse.
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Director: Jamie Blanks

Writer: Everett De Roche

Starring: Nadia Farès, Robert Taylor, John Brumpton, David Lyons, Mathew Wilkinson

Year: 2007

Runtime: 82 minutes

Country: Australia


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