Friday, September 28, 2012

...Or Should This Be Retitled 'Freedomman's Farm'?: "Frenchman's Farm" (1987)

Australia proves it can make a horror film just as annoying as a slasher film from Hollywood.

Cute Jackie (Tracey Tainsh) is out driving in the backroads of Australia when she comes upon a few wildfires. Her car magically goes back in time to the 1940's, so she wisely stops and asks for directions. Instead, she witnesses a man (Phil Brock) murder another with a pickaxe. Jackie then comes back to the present, and finds out she witnessed a forty year old crime, and someone was already arrested and charged with the murder. That guy was innocent, according to what Jackie saw.

Jackie and her nonbelieving boyfriend Barry (David Reyne) go back to the title, where the murder took place. From there, the couple make like "Hart to Hart," and get embroiled in an investigation of the murder, complete with plenty of red herring suspects and ghosts. The finale is shocking, as Barry and Jackie are also being investigated by a couple of policemen who know more than the amateur sleuths.

While the premise for the film is intriguing, the script and direction never work together. The viewer is given too many names and back story to keep straight. I felt like I was watching a soap opera for the first time, never certain how anyone was related. We are aware that the killer, John, is dead now, his ghost keeps popping up here and there, so this kills any suspense generated. The motive for the killings does not provide enough interest to keep watching the movie.

Way's direction is standard, sometimes an interesting shot (like an overhead of a nude Tainsh in a murky pond, Brock's appearances) arrives, but Way seems as bored with the "mystery" as I did.

"Frenchman's Farm" is not really awful so much as it is aloof. I got into it as much as the characters did, and that wasn't much. (* *) out of five stars.