Dying Breed (2008)

First showcased as part of HorrorFest’s 3rd lot of 8 Films To Die For, and combining two famous Australian legends, Dying Breed tells the tale of four friends who decide to venture into the Western Tasmanian bush in an attempt to find and photograph the supposedly extinct Tasmanian tiger. We soon find out that zoologist Nina has a second reason for being there; her sister was last seen in the very spot they’re visiting some years ago and has long been presumed dead. It’s not long before the gang are confronted with a band of creepy locals and they learn the story of Alexander ‘The Pieman’ Pearce who was hanged for cannibalism back in 1824. The following day, they trek deep into unknown territory and set up camp in a cave but when one of them goes missing in the middle of the night, things start to get a little peculiar and they begin to wonder whether ‘The Pieman’ might have living descendants that are carrying on his macabre traditions.

The stories from which Dying Breed takes its’ cues are given plenty of explanation and so the premise is a well-rounded and well-thought out one. Unfortunately, the execution is lacking any real gusto and the latter half becomes something of a confused mess. Nevertheless, there are some interesting scenarios and some suitably gruesome deaths which will appease the hardiest of gore-hounds.

Our protagonist Nina (Mirrah Foulkes) is a likable enough girl and is portrayed sympathetically but the fact that Foulkes showcases a lilting and massively unconvincing Irish accent proves hugely distracting at times. It’s a baffling and unnecessary disruption when you consider that the lead actress could have used her native Aussie accent and the story would not have been affected in the slightest. The male leads; Saw’s Leigh Whannell and Wolf Creek’s Nathan Phillips, are joined by Melanie Vallejo to complete the foursome. They tackle their respective roles capably, which credits the film with a sense of realism it would otherwise have lacked.

The gore effects are handled pretty admirably for the most part and there are some memorable scenes in the form of some facial cannibalism and an accident involving not one, but two bear traps. These moments help to elevate Dying Breed above the more forgettable movies that have centred on Deliverance-style inbred freaks and that have been pumped out with reliable regularity in the past ten years or so. It’s a crowded arena but Dying Breed just about manages to keep its head above water and offers enough originality to remain worthy of note.

Despite a few jarring moments and moronic character motivations, Dying Breed is a sufficiently watchable movie. It will probably disappear into obscurity in a few years but in the meantime, it’s a worthwhile way to spend an hour and a half. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for the almost subliminal split second footage before the credits roll for the ghastly truth about the Pieman’s pies.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

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