Wake in Fright

Wake in Fright ★★★★

What an offputting movie! I like my horror films, so I thought I knew what I was getting into. A righteous young man would travel to an outback town and get overtaken by the scummy residents therein. And yeah, that's basically what happens. It is a descent into depravity featuring a heck of a lot of beer, gambling, and bad decisions made by a young, frustrated teacher. I guess I have to applaud the film for being effectively horrible, much like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. But this movie has none of that film's scares, so instead of being a thriller it's more of an amped up drama with a few scenes of drink-induced delirium. The townies are certainly a sort I wouldn't like to get intimately acquainted with, even the doctor among them (played marvelously by Donald Pleasence) is a boor. The triumphs of the movie are its atmosphere and the climax, which involves a kangaroo hunt. The bloodthirsty nature of this scene is almost physically revolting. Powerful stuff. Too bad much of the rest of the film is so listless. The pacing here is... not tight. So, if you're into drawn out dread and really hot things, Wake in Fright is the movie for you.