Beaten to Death is the story of Jack (Thomas Roach) barely clinging to life after a horrific assault and stranded in the middle of nowhere. Holding on to what little is left of his sanity, he has to push himself to extreme lengths to survive the psychotic locals while navigating the Tasmanian landscape.
Very rarely does a film come along that makes me audibly utter the words “holy shit” but Sam Curtain had me saying that multiple times during his latest offering. The film opens with our protagonist pinned down and being mercilessly beaten by a hulking brute of a man, mere feet from the corpse of his wife and things just continue to get worse for him from there. The way it’s paced barely gives you a chance to breathe with your only respite being the beautiful yet utterly terrifying isolated landscapes. For this film, Curtain utilizes a non-linear form of storytelling, allowing you to slowly piece together the fateful events that have led us up to this point. Filling in the gaps as it goes, it gives you that all too little reprieve from the gory savagery, breaking things up with shots of our hopeless protagonist blind, beaten, and bloody trapped in the middle of nowhere while trying to convince himself to just keep moving. The way Jack is in a constant state of peril, the viewers can’t help but feel like they’re right there with him. Scene after scene, if he isn’t battling relentless attackers, he has to contend with his mind begging for it all to end. Sometimes in this world, there are no happy endings, you just cling to life and hope for the best. There’s one scene that stands out for me that is not too far in. Ned (David Tracy) has Jack tied to a chair while he slowly gouges his eyes out. Right before the tip of the knife pierces his last remaining eye the screen goes black, followed by damn near a minute of darkness with nothing but agonizing moans to fill the void. Even for someone like myself, that scene was one that will stick with me for a while. I can still hear his animal-like primal screams…oof.
Is this a film for everyone? Absolutely not. This might even be a bit too much for some seasoned gore veterans out there. But did I enjoy it? Yes. This isn’t the kind of flick everyone will enjoy but there is definitely an audience for this kind of film. Beaten to Death is visceral, it’s brutal and the way it was presented keeps you on edge for the entire runtime. Utterly beautiful cinematography juxtaposed with the ultra-violence made for an enjoyable watch. That’s just the kind of thing I’ve been looking for to break up the monotony of the mainstream offerings of late. If this sounds like something you might be into, I’m telling you this is worth the watch. You can find this one in select theaters September 1st.