Because of its brooding landscapes, and slightly behind the times looks (no offence meant here Australians) Australia has always been an amazing backdrop for gritty and disturbing movies, a few years ago the world awoke to Wolf Creek and it was a great success worldwide. Now director Rupert Glasson hopes his new movie Coffin Rock will hold similar acclaim.
Jesse (Lisa Chappell) and Rob (Robert Taylor) have the perfect relationship, a home they love, and jobs they both enjoy immensely; the one thing they are missing is a child. But this is the one thing it seems they cannot have, no matter how hard they try. A trip away from the quiet backwater of Coffin Rock takes them to a fertility clinic in the city to investigate the cause of their problems. Unbeknown to them, Jesse has hit the attention of the receptionist Evan (Sam Parsonson) who from very early on its clear is not quite all there. Throwing his job away and heading to Coffin Rock, Evan installs himself in the community having chance encounters with Jesse. When Rob and Jesse have a falling out Evan makes sure he’s about to be there for Jesse and before she’s had time to think about her action they are having sex. The things she liked about Evan soon turn nightmarish, and as she discovers she’s pregnant things are about to get a whole lot worse.
Coffin Rock is a thriller that is not a lot dissimilar to Fatal Attraction, this time however it’s the man that’s the troubled one. And I think in some cases that is more often than not the reality, it is more often that in real life cases of this sort of thing that it’s the man that comes obsessed. In fact before Fatal Attraction I don’t believe I ever heard of a woman becoming obsessed to the point of madness with a lover. The term Bunny Boiler so bounded about nowadays was not an expression used until Fatal Attraction, and I think part of the big draw was that it was a woman. Since then the psychopathic partner in other movies have nearly always been women, so Coffin Rock returns the balance nicely.
I’m going to stand up now and say I was not as impressed with Coffin Rock as others were at the World Premier at this years Frightfest. There were lots of positive things being bounded around the auditorium as the movie ended., but personally I don’t think we had seen anything new. Sam Parsonson is far from being the talented actor everyone seems to imply he is, and while I’m certain he’s much better than me I just was not taken in any way by his performance. An audience member discussed a moment where Evan kills a baby kangaroo, so what in Fatal Attraction the character of Alex kills a Rabbit. Now I’m not knocking peoples views, but I think the reason Coffin Rock received such acclaim is because it’s not a horror movie, showing at a horror movie festival. When your trapped in a cinema watching movie after movie all horror themed day after day, I think a point comes where you need a bit of a reprieve and Coffin Rock filled that space. I’d challenge anyone that thought the movie was great to look again in a different environment. You may wonder dear reader why I have taken you down this path, and the reason being is because except for the privileged few the only reviews you’ll find of this movie are pretty much coming from Frightfest, and having read lots of articles all raving about the wonders of Coffin Rock you’ll stumble on mine which is fairly negative, and I thought it good to highlight potential reasons why.
Back on track with the movie and I’ll start chiefly with the performers Lisa Chappell is a great actress and she handles the leading role with great ease. While being great, and no disrespect to the actress, but she is not the sort of woman you’d take one look at and change your life for even if you are a nutcase. That’s not a criticism of her looks, its just there is nothing to stand her out from a crowd, and I think the producers of the movie could have perhaps highlighted either other reasons why the character of Evan would fall for her in such a way, or have spent more time making her look beautiful. In contrast the character of Rob again perfectly well played by Robert Taylor is a fairly unlikely looking partner for Jessie, and it seems the producers do try to overcompensate on certain issues because they both look such an unlikely couple.
On to Sam Parsonson, and as I highlighted earlier I was not in anyway struck by the actor or his performance. I just found him quite annoying; there were good aspects to his performance however I could barely see above the bad. There was never much effort put in by him or the producers to make him remotely endearing to the audience. Even as they show flashbacks to which he in present time and flashback overacts terribly. There were some good bits, a great scene where he eats a fish, and in Q & A after the movie he explained he had to do it again. I also liked aspects of the relationship he had with the kangaroo that is of course till he smashes its brains in because it never helped! Now I’m sure Parsonson has a bright future as an actor, I just don’t feel he put enough into the role here.
The one thing that works well is the location; you get a great feeling of isolation and can see how characters are drawn together by lack of choice. In a community of a few hundred people miles from anywhere maybe you have to lower your standards, which could explain the pairing of Jesse and Rob. It certainly came across that in Coffin Rock there was only one woman for every ten men.
Coffin Rock is not a bad movie; it’s just not anything out of the norm. There is nothing here that you could not find in a U.S. made for TV drama about a psychopathic lover. It just toddles along showing Evan in a bad light, before becoming predictably stupid and going on a road chase between Evan and a kidnapped Jesse and a left behind Rob. It almost enters the realm of Friday The 13th as the climax comes when your thinking, will Evan die? I’d watch Coffin Rock again and gladly re-access my views if I’m wrong, but I think its more likely that out of a packed horror movie environment that Coffin Rock will appeal to me even less.