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GONE (2007)

Young British travelers Alex and Sophie (Shaun Evans and Amelia Warner) are fulfilling their dream of backpacking through Australia when they hook up with enigmatic American drifter, Taylor (Scott Mechlowicz). Accepting his offer of friendship and a lift in his car, the three set off into the outback, but the further they go the more suspect and sinister Taylor's motive for imposing his friendship becomes. And the festering tensions start to tear the Alex and Sophie apart, isolated as they are in the rugged outback.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There appears to be a familiarity in the subject matter, as if the ghost of Wolf Creek is hanging around this film, but that's purely superficial. The story and the characters are different. Where Wolf Creek was a genuine horror film, Gone is more a psychological thriller & road movie mix, and the character of Taylor (Scott Mechlowicz) bears little relationship to the Mick Taylor played by John Jarratt in Wolf Creek - names apart.

Yet the structure is indeed similar, but Gone works by pushing different buttons; there is a piece of emotional blackmail that is at the centre of the relationship between the two men, on which pivots the unravelling of the entire set of relationships. The outback offers no hiding place and no escape - this is a button well used by many filmmakers, but it's still effective. The third big button is Taylor's mysterious past, hinted at during a scene in a bar when a woman recognises him from Thailand and calls him Jamie.

But while Taylor's good looks and edgy charm grow increasingly menacing, we can't quite get a handle on him or his motives, unsure to the very end whether he is a fascinating creep or a monstrous psychopath. This turns into the film's main flaw, as the final scenes suggest that deep down, he is not that dissimilar to the Mick Taylors of the world, after all. The unravelling of his character shifts the tone from psychological thriller towards horror and lessens the screenplay's original purpose.

Debut feature for tv commercials director Ringan Ledwidge shows he has an innate sense of cinema, and handles the genre well and the outback looks gritty but great.

Performances are terrific, all three leads delivering gutsy characterisations that are credible and Mechlowicz's Taylor is a wonderfully minimalist piece of slime, adorned with hunky good looks that help to up the ante.

As the three characters journey into dangerous territory - in every sense - the tone retains its sense of impending doom and its ambiguity, ensuring that the climactic finale pays off the pent up tension.

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(UK/Aust, 2007)

CAST: Scott Mechlowicz, Ameila Warner, Shaun Evans, Yvonne Strzechowski, Victoria Thaine, Zoe Tuckwell-Smith

PRODUCER: Deborah Balderstone, Nira Park

DIRECTOR: Ringan Ledwidge

SCRIPT: Andrew Upton, James Watkins

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bianca Halpern, Ben Seresin

EDITOR: Melissa Brown, Chris Dickins

MUSIC: David Bridie

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Elizabeth Mary Moore, Saqib Siddik

RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes



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