The debut feature from writer/director Glasson, Coffin Rock is apparently striving to be something like Australia’s answer to Cape Fear or Fatal Attraction – and it’s not too far off.
In a rural fishing village in New South Wales, middle aged couple Robb and Jess have been striving unsuccessfully for a baby for several years. When they visit the city for an IVF appointment they’re spotted by Irish teenager Evan, who immediately becomes obsessed with Jess and follows them home town in order to inveigle himself in their lives. After Jess drunkenly sleeps with Evan, and subsequently discovers she’s pregnant, what she thought was a besotted young boy reveals himself to be something far more unhinged and threatening.
Coffin Rock shares a producer with excellent horror Wolf Creek, and like that film it gets off to a measured, almost ponderous start, and features a similarly naturalistic style. Unfortunately it never reaches the same giddily nerve-wracking heights as Wolf Creek; taking parenthood and infidelity as its themes, this is a far more adult prospect that tends to pull its punches somewhat. There are, however, one or two moments of Grand Guignol, including some rather distressing animal cruelty to rival Fatal Attraction’s bunny boiling, and the final reel delivers some proper edge-of-your-seat tension.
Although, not an outstanding film, Coffin Rock does have much to recommend it. Glasson makes great use of the location; there’s an evocative wintery tone that seems unusual for an Australian film, and despite the rural setting it deliberately avoids the outback stereotypes we’re used to seeing. Furthermore, the three leads give unfaultable performances; Morrell, as the cuckolded Robb, strikes just the right balance between melancholy self-pity and simmering fury, and Camilleri as Jess perfectly conveys her character’s conflicted emotions. Inevitably though, it’s Parsonson as the increasingly deranged Evan who’ll stick in the mind after the credits roll.
Check out Screenjabber.com for full coverage of FrightFest 2009.