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ACOLYTES

SYNOPSIS:
After teenager Mark (Sebastian Gregory), witnesses a man filling in a trench deep in the woods, he gathers his friends Chasely (Hanna Mangan-Lawrence) and James (Joshua Payne), to return to the scene to unearth what they imagine is buried cash or drugs. But when it turns out to be a body - after the shock subsides - they decide to use their discovery to exact revenge on local thug and bully Gary Parker (Michael Dorman). To carry out their plan, they must hunt down and involve the killer, Ian Wright (Joel Edgerton), but unwillingly find themselves lured into his violent world.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Jon Hewitt knows how to keep the audience on the edge of their seats, as he chills and thrills with this smart and tight teenage fright'ner. Well placed mini-shocks keep us unsettled and increasingly sensitive to the building tension. He teases with finesse, and works the well observed script into a crafty and insightful piece of cinema, with defined and tangibly real characters, thanks to his perfectly picked cast.

Joel Edgerton makes an impressive character out of Ian, the suburban husband and father with a deadly night hobby, matched for intensity by Michael Dorman as Gary the violent bully terrorising the teenagers Mark (Sebastian Gregory) and James (Joshua Payne); both the youngsters handle the challenges of complex roles, as does Hanna Mangan-Lawrence as Chasely, the third party of the traumatised trio. Belinda McClory is truly memorable in a small but crucial support role as Ian Wright's wife, a character in her own right.

The story has several unexpected twists and turns, and is unusual in having not one but two menacing baddies to work with. A combo of psychological thriller and bloody chiller, the film gains enormously from a relatively restrained approach to the gory bits.

Images are the essence of cinema and Hewitt's cinematographer Mark Pugh, delivers some exceptional material, which is sometimes manipulated for extra effect. The sound scape is well worked into the fibre of the film and the end result is a superior piece of genre filmmaking.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

ACOLYTES (MA)
(Aust, 2009)

CAST: Joel Edgerton, Sebastian Gregory, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Joshua Payne, Michael Dorman, Belinda McClory, Holly Baldwin, Anthony Phelan, Bella Heathcote, Sue Dwyer

PRODUCER: Penny Wall, Richard Stewart

DIRECTOR: Jon Hewitt

SCRIPT: Jon Hewitt, S.P. Krause, Shayne Armstrong

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mark Pugh

EDITOR: Simon Martin

MUSIC: David Franzke

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michelle Sotheren

RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Limelight/Rough Beast

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Brisbane: April 16 (Palace Barracks); Sydney: April 30 (Chauvel); Melbourne: May 2 (ACMI); Perth: May 14 (Luna Palace); Adelaide TBA, 2009






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