I’ll be honest, the first few minutes had me worrying. While the photography is quite something, compounded by the beautiful location(s), the opening scene of this Bigfoot-homage film has a bit of awkward over-acting. I can only say this about the first scene though, which isn’t that long and serves as the basis for the main narrative which takes place 200 years later. We jump forward from the first scene to the present, and the story begins. It didn’t take long for me to settle into the film after the shaky start, and while it isn’t really anything new or original, hence the title, it turns out to be a fun romp around the bush and actually has some great comedic moments that had me smiling many times throughout.
After that first scene I found that I stopped nit-picking on the acting, though I think the main actors here are slightly more talented than those used in the first scene. Either way, I enjoyed the film more and more as it went on, and the acting from some of the main cast is actually quite well done, most prominently from Melanie Serafin who plays one of the central characters to the film, a bushranger who bumps into the two other main characters – two mates paddling their way into the bush to follow the legend of the amusingly named Thunderclap Newman, who we meet in the opening scene. Legend has it that his stash of gold is in the forest the two mates – Kent and Jack – are paddling deeper into, and the two seem quite confident despite the long odds they are facing. Greed creeps into the equation early on, and not long after this the Yowie makes its presence known. Suddenly this simple story becomes more complex and genuinely interesting.
At first the script/dialogue seemed under-written, and there are a few points where it does seem to fall into itself, but for the most part it isn’t bad and actually mirrors how I speak myself pretty damned well. It is very Australian. This injected a sense of realism into a story that involves the appearance of a mythical creature. Comic relief is provided both in the script (“This is my mate Kent…. Spelt with a ‘u’”) and also in the appearance of Vernon Wells as a detective who has been suspended from the force and is hiding in the bush in camouflage, looking for the serial killer that is allegedly responsible for several missing people. We of course know what is causing these mysterious disappearances, but this element of THROWBACK is actually a great part of the movie – at one point causing one character to try his best to convince ex-detective McNab (Wells) that the serial killer he is looking for is actually a Yowie. Needless to say, McNab is sceptical. I won’t delve further into the narrative as the way it unfolds is very well written and contains a few surprises that add to the variety of the film.
As mentioned, the locations chosen to shoot in have been chosen with care, and this is combined with some fantastic cinematography (from freak of nature, Travis Bain, who wrote, directed, shot, edited, sound edited, sound produced, and no doubt whipped up a bunch of muffins for cast to snack on during the production) produced creates countless beautiful shots of the forest being explored. These shots are more prominent in the first half of the movie, while in the second half it falls down a bit, mainly in the facial close-ups which at times reveal minor flaws in the acting. Some of the action is a little unbelievable also (one character manages to pass out underwater, yet he doesn’t drown) but considering the movie involves the appearance of a Yowie, I don’t think this is much to dwell on.
This brings me to the film’s biggest fault. The Yowie appears onscreen too often, and we get a few brief but good looks at the creature, which doesn’t look too impressive. Furthermore, the sound the creature makes is quite unsettling, and I feel that this could have been utilised more to add to the tension that the film creates. For the most part though, the Yowie is almost entirely out of view, which should have continued for the duration of the movie in my humble opinion. In saying this though, the film hardly has any lengthy shots of the creature, any clear glimpse we get lasts for a split-second.
3/5 – Overall, for a movie that is obviously paying tribute to movies of the past involving mythical creatures, most prominently Bigfoot, this is entertaining, funny, well-written and has a surprisingly tense final act considering the subject matter and the implausible nature of a few scenes. This is far from a classic film, but also far from a terrible movie. In fact after writing this, I feel like watching it again, which can only be a positive sign.