Jon Hewitt | 2008 | 91 mins | Australia
Much like Deadgirl, Acolytes is about a group of teens who stumble accidentally onto something quite horrific, and then proceed to make a bunch of really bad decisions. That's where the similarities end.
In an idyllic Australian suburb paralyzed by the disappearance of a young woman, a teenager stumbles upon a guy burying something in the woods. Thinking it's probably little more than a dead animal or some trash, he brings two friends with him to dig it up. Just for fun, y'know?
When they discover something a bit more disturbing than a dead koala, the trio decide to try to track down the mysterious man who did the burying in the first place. Plagued by a former bully who's recently returned to town, pals Mark (Sebastian Gregory) James (Joshua Payne) decide that their discovery is going to allow them to masterfully turn the tables on all the sinister evildoers in their midst.
Unfortunately but predictably, the two friends (and the girl who constantly threatens to come between them, James' girlfriend Chasely) get in way over their heads. Before they know it, their spooky romp through the Australian countryside is no longer a lark, but has turned into a dark and dangerous adventure.
A really fun and tension-soaked horror thriller that effectively turns the tables on its characters and the audience, switching tone unexpectedly for a real sucker-punch of an intense final act. With this effort, director Jon Hewitt will surely be joining the ranks of Australia's great horror directors (as seen in the awesome "Ozploitation" documentary Not Quite Hollywood, also screening at TIFF this year).
Note to those who can make the remaining TIFF screenings on Wednesday the 10th at 6:45pm or Friday the 12th at 12:15pm - it's worth it for the incredible sound design alone.