THE FURIES (2019)

The Furies.jpg

Studio: Shudder
Director: Tony D¡¯Aquino
Writer: Tony D¡¯Aquino
Producer: Lisa Shaunessy, Andy Marriott
Stars: Airlie Dodds, Linda Ngo, Taylor Ferguson, Ebony Vagulans, Danielle Horvat, Tom O¡¯Sullivan

Review Score:

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Summary:

Kidnapped women try to unravel a bizarre mystery while being hunted by brutish killers wearing terrifying masks.


Synopsis:     

Review:

¡°The Furies¡± can¡¯t even be described as a ¡®steak and potatoes¡¯ slasher. It¡¯s all meat and no vegetables. If you just want the entr¨¦e of masked murderers chasing resilient women without having to eat side dishes of conversation-driven drama, quiet interludes, or deep thematic subtext, this movie will shove no-fat horror directly down your gullet.

¡°The Furies¡± starts with a man in a mask made to look like a hillbilly burn victim chasing a panicked woman through a forest. The woman trips of course, setting her up as a dead duck for the madman¡¯s scythe. Enter another maniac in a weirdo cupid mask. The second psycho butchers the first, throws the woman over his shoulder, and stalks off for parts unknown.

The scene is a typical pre-title attention-grabber, albeit with an outcome one wouldn¡¯t normally expect. That alludes to the movie¡¯s approach as a whole. It¡¯s stitched out of tropes, yet sews them with herringbone hooks to pull tension tight while keeping you swaddled in comforting ¡°crazed killer¡± warmth.

The actual opening introduces Kayla and her friend Maddie. Maddie, or rather the script, could not possibly be more on the nose when she chastises Kayla as a gutless coward only 60 seconds into their single scene together. She¡¯s been babysitting her bestie since childhood and it¡¯s high time Kayla stop using her epilepsy as an excuse for self-pitying fragility. Could a terrifying test of character spark an arc that transforms Kayla from helpless to heroine?

Obviously, writer/director Tony D¡¯Aquino¡¯s only interest in exposition is making it minimally invasive and getting it out of the way as quickly as possible. Weirdly, ¡°The Furies¡± never feels a sting from not padding its first act with formalities. We meet multiple women throughout the course of the movie. Each one has a clearly identifiable personality type that fills a function in context with the action. Defying conventional screenwriting wisdom, ¡°The Furies¡± creates individuals who aren¡¯t interchangeable while managing to build unique dynamics between everyone without using fully developed backstories.

Every move the film makes is in service of setting up suspense or slaughter anyway. The plot reveals unknown entities have abducted several women, Kayla and Maddie included, and dumped them in the middle of a forest without explanation. The only information they really need is that they must run for their lives. Hot on their trail are an equal number of brutish, grunting men in hideously horrific masks, determined to destroy them in the most brutal ways imaginable and unimaginable.

¡°The Furies¡± puts its gas pedal through the car floor at this point and never lifts its foot until end credits are over. Running a lean 80 minutes, the film barely takes a breath as it rushes through chase after chase and kill after kill like a seven-foot-tall beast overdosing on steroids.

Without making a list, it appears as though an approximately even number of men and women are murdered and/or mutilated. Nevertheless, a trigger warning is in effect because we are talking about a lot of violence specifically against women here, although none of it is sexual.

Deaths are so extreme however, the film subtly satirizes dated genre movie gender roles by purposefully amplifying intensity without playing anything for laughs. The dementedly detailed premise that eventually unfolds, which involves a sophisticated snuff conspiracy ring as well as a ¡°Deadlock¡± element where participants paired in the pursuit may have their heads suddenly explode, is 100% preposterous. With fiction that fantasized (I didn¡¯t even mention the electronic ocular implants), ¡°The Furies¡± can revel in nastiness without being realistically revolting. The film ends up feeling darkly humorous as uncompromising escapist entertainment even though it isn¡¯t actually comedic.

Practical effects have free reign to be as wildly unrestricted as anything seen since the days when makeup masters were idolized like rock stars. Arms are brutally torn from sockets, a head is split to the neck with an ax, an eyeball gets scooped out with a spoon, and an ax blade slowly saws off one victim¡¯s face. Gruesome FX are always exceptional, but body parts regularly behave in ways that defy physics.

It¡¯s part of an overall illusion where everything is impossibly dialed up to 11, yet there¡¯s always some tether keeping mood terrifying too. Desaturation removes some of the reds to heighten contrast for a partially bleached color spectrum. Slight brownness gives blood a grungy patina that feels grossly unpleasant even when the splattery sights are straight out of a comic book.

Kayla has appeared in countless fright films under different names, though Airlie Dodds gives her a fair enough shake. She¡¯s only annoying when she¡¯s supposed to be, and takes intriguing turns on her torturous tour through Hell. Taylor Ferguson plays a routine selfish survivor, but her icy eyes excellently convey both fear and fearsomeness as the second standout in the cast.

A bigger issue than predictable personalities is the imaginary age range for this roster. ¡°The Furies¡± seemingly sets everyone up as high-schoolers. At least, Kayla and Maddie discuss going to university in the opening, so that¡¯s what I inferred. The actresses are all visibly older than that though.

I would have overlooked the odd age discrepancy if not for Rose, an absolutely obnoxious character who sinks every scene she appears in. I don¡¯t know if actress Linda Ngo should be blamed as much as perhaps D¡¯Aquino for insisting on dumbing down her performance to match Rose¡¯s supposed youthfulness. Ngo overplays childlike confusion with such a pouty-lipped baby voice, Rose comes across as mentally impaired while shredding every last ounce of audience tolerance with a cheese grater.

I don¡¯t even see how anyone¡¯s age ever becomes relevant. Teens, twenties, or forties, different birthdates wouldn¡¯t materially change the story. Let the ladies play their actual ages and ¡°The Furies¡± could have hopped its biggest hurdle to pulling off an otherwise effective straightforward slasher.

The gritty style of ¡°The Furies¡± celebrates crimson cinema in all its gory glory. The killers look cool. Quick cuts keep the tempo tapping faster than you can snap your fingers. Slimness to the substance may make empty calories out of the meal. But this steak comes with sizzle that scalds the tongue with unflinching wickedness.

Review Score: 75