Monday, 27 November 2017

PURGATORY ROAD - Mark Savage's must-see new film

Purgatory Road
2017, dir: Mark Savage

Father Vincent (Gary Cairns), an excommunicated Catholic priest, travels in a mobile ‘confessional van’ around rural Mississippi with his brother Michael (Luke Albright), who acts as his assistant. Both men are still scarred from witnessing their father’s suicide in childhood following a home invasion where the family’s life savings were stolen. Vincent, in particular is racked with guilt that he was unable to help his father. Guilt that has manifested into a psychotic hatred towards anyone who steals, no matter how trivial the offence. Anyone who owns up to thieving in Vincent's confessional box is brutally slaughtered and disembowelled – Vincent's rationale is that he is ‘purifying’ these ‘unclean souls’. Though sickened by Vincent's heinous actions, Michael reluctantly sticks by his brother out of family loyalty. The siblings manage to evade the law due to the sheer incompetency of the state police. However their twisted existence is shook up even further when Mary Francis (Trista Robinson), an eccentric young drifter with a taste for bloodshed that rivals Vincent, enters the scene...

One of Australia’s most successful and accomplished independent filmmakers, Mark Savage has consistently proven himself to be a formidable talent in the horror/cult field since the release of his no-budget wonder Marauders at the age of 24. Savage has pushed the bar even further with Purgatory Road, which may well be his best work to date. An intense, relentlessly brutal tale of retribution and indeed murder and mayhem in spades, Purgatory Road is a tour-de-force for the senses that stays with the viewer long after the closing credits rolls. Visually the film is a knockout – scenes are flooded with stunning compositions of  light, shadows and fog and would certainly not look out of place in a classic Eurohorror film (Savage has openly acknowledged that European genre cinema is a major influence on his work). Nightfall invokes a particularly foreboding atmosphere, the dense, rambling backwaters of Mississippi enveloping the unholy deeds of Vincent in its enveloping darkness, occasionally punctuated with glorious shades of crimson. 
The trio of principal actors all deliver the thespian goods exceptionally well. Gary Cairns as Vincent transforms to and from a mild-mannered, pious and seemingly harmless man of the cloth to a ruthless, sadistic monster seamlessly and convincingly. Luke Albright contrasts well with Cairns in his role as the conflicted Michael who’s at a crossroads in deciding whether to stay protecting his brother, or to flee from the mayhem. As the kooky - to put it mildly – Mary Francis, Trista Robinson is hypnotic and scene-stealing without going too over the top.    
A bravura triumph of indie filmmaking from one of its most dedicated, enthusiastic and gifted specialists, Purgatory Road is an uncompromising no holds barred hell ride into the perverse mindscape of a serial killer, fuelled by the series of dark and disturbing events in the narrative. Mark Savage’s masterpiece is a must see for all fans of horror and extreme cinema.

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