In the Outback, No one can hear you squeal!
Director Chris Sun’s motivation for creating Boar was a desire to create an antidote to tongue-in-cheek creature features like Sharknado and Piranha 3D and ramp up the fear factor, returning to the example set by Jaws. Unfortunately, Boar doesn’t quite live up to being a genuinely scary monster movie for a number of reasons.
In the harsh, yet beautiful Australian outback lives a beast, an animal of staggering size, with a ruthless, driving need for blood and destruction. It cares for none, defends its territory with brutal force, and kills with a raw, animalistic savagery unlike any have seen before. Believed nothing more than a myth, a legend brought to life by a drunken local, the beast ventures closer to civilization, closer to life, and ultimately, closer to death. It’s brutal, it’s bloodthirsty, it’s boar.
Despite assembling a decent cast, the whole film feels fragmented, often not letting characters interact in meaningful ways. Subjects are raised and then completely abandoned, leaving a number of elements feeling paper-thin. This is best showcased in one scene between Bruce (Bill Moseley) and his potential son-in-law Robert (Hugh Sheridan) where their interaction appears to start to add layers to their characters, only to be abruptly stopped. As a result, the dialogue delivered is often stilted. The script too often falls victim to telling, not showing. In a way, the issue in assembling this kind of cast is that there is a desire to involve them all, often meaning that we don’t really spend enough time with them to worry too much about their fates.
These kinds of monster movies are inherently quite silly. Only classics like Jaws can be said to have any real, long-lasting fear factor. The SyFy monster movies which have received a level of popularity is in part due to the fact that they openly acknowledge the inherent silliness of their premises and invite the audience in on the joke. Particularly for this – the idea of a homicidal, human-eating, giant wild pig sounds like the perfect fodder for the kind of film Boar seeks to be more serious than. For Boar, despite the practical pig creation being rather impressive, it is sometimes seen for too long, or too close up, which undermines it somewhat. Designer Steve Boyle deserves plaudits for his work in the creation of the pig which adds to the story in terms of giving the boar a character through it’s physical appearance.
The occasional dips into Boar-vision do little to enhance any scares or even really draw too much attention to gore or the severity of attacks, although they do pay reference to existing monster movies of it’s kind and fit the format well. Initial moments of sound design are very effective, adding to the anticipation of seeing the boar. Similarly, I particularly like that there is no real reason given for the boar’s mutation or the attacks. The first sighting comes from a drunk pub patron, which allows the locals to reasonably deny it before the action escalates. The film isn’t concerned with why the boar exists, just that it is out to kill people, which is a strength in that it does away with any pseudo-scientific exposition scenes and keeps proceedings simple.
By keeping the tackling of the pig to the locals and keeping its existence as a myth for the most part it also means that dealing with the attacks is left to locals, rather than experts. Former professional wrestler Nathan Jones’ physicality is utilised to decent effect and that is something to be commended. It adds a level of believable brutality to the physical confrontations. Ultimately, I can’t help but feel that an element of comedy would assist the film, particularly as the dialogue isn’t sparky or dramatic enough.
There’s a certain appeal in watching John Jarrett play a role in which he’s concerned for young people in the Outback considering he is probably best known now for Wolf Creek. His chemistry with Blue (Roger Ward) is fairly entertaining, but again, lacks depth. In the same way, the pub where everyone seems to gather is full of ‘characters’ – all with the same stilted dialogue and often visits seem to exist only to pad out the runtime, rather than add any new ideas or push anything forward. It feels a little like this time could have been better used showing more attacks.
In summary, Boar won’t offer anything particularly new to monster movie fans and lacks the polish to take itself as seriously as it seems to want to. However, the practical design of the boar itself is impressive and some decent gore effects offer enough to carry it along for those who enjoy the format.
Boar plays at Frightfest 2018 on August 24th and will receive a home-entertainment release in early 2019 courtesy of Frightfest Presents.