Living in a fishing town and their marriage strained by continuing inability to have children naturally, Rob (Robert Taylor) and Jess (Lisa Chappell), are trying IVF. They don't notice Evan (Sam Parsonson), the young male receptionist at the clinic, but he takes an instant interest in Jess and quickly tracks her down. After too much to drink at the pub one night and her defences down, she lets herself be seduced by Evan, who she knows only as a young stranger in town, unaware that his interest in her borders on the obsessive. When she discovers she is pregnant, Jess' guilt turns to horror as Evan begins a terrifying transformation from stalker to psychopath, determined to prove paternity of the child and claim Jess for himself; and when Rob notices her strange behaviour, he begins to suspect something's wrong.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The evocatively titled Coffin Rock - up the road from its older cousin, Wolf Creek (and also produced by the latter's producer David Lightfoot) - sets out to hold us on the edge of our seats in a tightly made genre film that boasts outstanding performances and dynamic direction. Writer director Rupert Glasson's feature debut shows him to be a talent to watch - probably as he waves goodbye to Australia on a fast boat to Hollywood, I'd not be surprised. He may even take the cast with him ...
Sam Parsonson creates a wonderfully obnoxious psychopath whose past bad deeds provide some unsettling flash backs, and whose moral detachment is matched by his superficially normal, almost benign outer layer. It's a performance that lets the writing do its work and Parsonson makes the most of the script's excellent dialogue. It's as much his film as it is Lisa Chappell's, who gives Lisa a transparent vulnerability as the desperate wife trapped in a corner by cruel fate. Although a victim figure, she struggles through the situation with verve.
Robert Taylor is terrific as the macho fisherman who can't stand the though of being impotent, and the entire supporting cast is top notch.
The story is cleverly conceived and structured (albeit rather optimistic about a small fishing community having their own IVF clinic), with a couple of layers to give it texture, and the economy of the writing gives the film a lean, focused energy, with Glasson's instinctive cinematic style. The flaws in human nature as exemplified by these characters are exposed with unflinching honesty but not without mercy. Glasson doesn't play god, but he does let the devil loose. Coffin Rock is edgy and engrossing entertainment, the kind of movie that knows its audience - and delivers to them. (NB After a standing ovation at UK's Frightfest, the film continues its run on the international film festival circuit as it opens in Australia in October 2009, with screenings at the 45th Anniversary Chicago International Film Festival and Pusan International Film Festival 2009.)
Review by Louise Keller:
Music plays an integral role in this taut psychological thriller in which obsession hits a key note. A woman obsessed with having a baby; a man obsessed about proving his manhood; an obsessive stranger with a brain flip. The mention of the producer of Wolf Creek immediately identifies the genre - and writer director Rupert Glasson's first feature is an impressive debut with excellent performances. It's a tense, edge-of-seat ride with underlying themes of morality and honesty, made all the more effective by the way Glasson carefully sets the scene and allows us to get to know the characters first.
In the early scenes, we are not really sure what is happening. We meet Lisa Chappell's Jessie and husband Rob (Robert Taylor), who are both obsessed about wanting to start a family - but for different reasons. The story takes place in the close-knit fishing inlet of Coffin Rock, where the fish are jumping and the crayfish races provide the entertainment at the local watering hole. Lisa and Rob's marriage is a happy one but shows signs of cracking under severe strain of waiting, synchronised sex and subsequent quarrels. When we meet Sam Parsonson's seemingly gentle Evan, it is hard to see what might lie beneath the charming and nurturing exterior. Parsonson (think Elijah Wood in Lord of the Rings) is especially effective with his baby-face features and ability to easily tap into his dark side.
Glasson uses the elements to keep us on edge. The skies are grey, the setting is isolated and there are plenty of shadows. We get jumpy at any situation. A figure at the window, a knock on the door, a heart scratched in the windowpane. What should be the most exciting news in the world carries a different complexion as Jessie is faced with big decisions. All stops are pulled out in the lead up to a frenetic climax in the dead of night, when the nightmare continues like a never-ending stretch of road. I particularly like John Gray's moody music that orchestrates our feelings but never manipulates to excess.
(S: Suburban; R: Regional)
Event Marion - S
Wallis Mitcham - S
Wallis Mt Barker S/R
Reading Elizabeth S/R
Reading Epping - S
Reading Harbour Town - S
Forum Cinemas Wagga Wagga - R
Cinemax Cinema Kingscliff - R
Reading Belmont S
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COFFIN ROCK (MA)
CAST: Robert Taylor, Lisa Chappell, Sam Parsonson, Geoff Morrell, Terry Camilleri, Jody Dry, Joseph Del Re
PRODUCER: David Lightfoot, Ayisha Davies
DIRECTOR: Rupert Glasson
SCRIPT: Rupert Glasson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Foreman
EDITOR: Adrian Rostirolla
MUSIC: John Gray
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tony Cronin
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: All Interactive
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 22, 2009