Gore Abounds in Australian Slasher, The Furies (2019)


by Sam Kolesnik

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Slasher fans will love The Furies. Written and directed by Tony D’Aquino, this new Australian horror film ticks all the checkboxes of a traditional hack-and-slash: sympathetic protagonist, fearsome villains, gory kills and lots of run-and-chase. 

Kayla (Airlie Dodds) is headed off to “uni” while rebel friend, Maddie (Ebony Vagulans) has less promising plans. The Furies opens on the two friends having a dramatic argument after creating a bit of feminist graffiti. The scene plays out like rolling exposition and is one of the film’s weakest moments. Fortunately, The Furies quickly leaves the cheesy drama behind when assailants capture both Maddie and Kayla. 

Kayla wakes up in a box in a remote wilderness and this is where the film hits its stride. Stranded without her epilepsy medicine, Kayla soon discovers she’s not alone; there are other women here, too, and no one has much of a clue what’s going on. But just like with any slasher, the story takes a distant backseat to the chase-and-kill sequences. 

Cue the Beasts — men in gruesome costumes who pursue the women (and each other) with all manner of bladed weaponry. One Beast is distinctly reminiscent of classic horror villain, Leatherface, with a severed human leg attached to his own and the rest of his body covered in a motley suit of human skin patchwork.

There are some notable gory kills in The Furies — the most shudder-inducing one involving an axe slowly removing a human face. Even seasoned horror fans might be tempted to look away. Limbs are severed. Heads explode. Eyeballs get pushed, poked, and removed. The Furies goes the distance with special effects.

Tony D’Aquino’s script tries to transcend the axe-meets-flesh formula with some moments that serve as simplified allegory to women’s choices in a patriarchy. As the women come together and the sadistic game’s rules are revealed, they split off into two ideological camps of thought. One: we support each other at all costs and overcome the male assailants as a unified front. Two: we turn on each other because there’s only room for one of us. Unfortunately, this higher concept gets overrun by the fast-track pacing of the plot’s baser elements. There’s just not enough time to let it all fully develop. 

The plot is easy to dismember, but narrative complexity never was a hack-em-up’s hallmark. Nonetheless, The Furies is a gory and thrilling addition to the slasher library.