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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 7.69%
Pretty Bad61.54%
Total Crap: 30.77%

1 review, 7 user ratings

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Dustwalker, The
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by Jay Seaver

"Abjectly refuses to put its good pieces together well."
2 stars

SCREENED AT BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL 45: The distributors that pick this Australian horror movie up will likely be able to cut a good enough trailer that the people who stream it wonder why it just doesn't click afterwards, even discounting the visual effects that look a few years out of date. Watching it, I noted that it's been a while since I've seen a film struggle so much to string scenes together, leaving one always a bit out of sync. It feels a bit like someone took a prefabricated monsters-from-space movie kit and didn't read the instructions, just tossing the "extra" bits away after gluing the obvious ones together.

It starts with something crashing outside a small town in Western Australia, taking out communications with the outside world and hitting the man who comes to investigate with some sort of red dust. Everyone naturally leans on Joanne Sharp (Jolene Anderson), one of the town's two police officers, to figure out what's going on, even as she and sister Samantha (Stef Dawson), plan to pack up and move to the city. A lot of people have started acting very strange, though, and geologist Angela (Cassandra Magrath) has found some unusual material in a brand new crater.

The audience never gets a look inside that crater (or it was too quick to register with this viewer) which makes one wonder if the production budget was sometimes tighter than anticipated, like there was no money to either render something that could be the melted remains of a spaceship or even commission one from a local sculptor, at least once the visual effects budget was spent on a dust storm and some under-skin motion on the faces of the infected. It doesn't necessarily feel like something director Sandra Sciberras is shooting around, and there are no scenes later where Joanne and Angela refer to anything particularly specific about what they saw, but it's an odd thing to be missing. Add some rough CGI creature effects, and a picture quickly emerges of a movie whose budget was no match for its ambition.

That may explain the other reason the film feels so rough, if not in such an immediately obvious manner: There never quite seems to be enough to tie one scene to another. It starts early, when a cut from the recent high school grad who saw the falling stars in her telescope to a room in the Sharp home seems to imply she's part of that family, through repeated shots of a woman in the local coffee shop who will not actually have any lines before she's infected, possibly at the expense of characters whose familiarity is supposed to be kind of important. In the back half of the movie, it becomes a real mess, as the film is trying to build a sort of siege but has people moving about in ways the audience can't follow. There's a scene of someone turning into a monster inside a room with only one obvious exit, and rising music as they walk behind two potential victims, but the latter show up fine later, like that earlier scene didn't exist. There are a lot of missing mechanics that the film isn't thrilling enough to do without, and a lot of time when the murderous infected just stand around until the movie needs them to start chasing people.

It's a weird sensation, seeing a movie stumble like this, because there's a lot of material in front of the camera that's not bad at all. I like the cast and the characters they play; Jolene Anderson puts just a bit of weariness into her funny, professional cop, for instance, and Cassandra Magrath makes Angela feel like a bit of an oddball in little screen-time without exaggerating. There are funny bits in how they interact, and the film takes good advantage of its setting. Strain a little, and one can see the filmmakers doing something with a dying town, though it never quite snaps into focus.

The sci-fi horror stuff, though, is not good, from the poor effects to just not having enough to actually do to stretch the film to feature length. It's a film that feels like things generally went well on-set and then completely fell apart when it was time to add visual effects and assemble the raw footage into an actual movie.

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originally posted: 02/13/20 05:53:33
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User Comments

1/27/21 EHawkins A complete waste of time. We fast forwarded through it. 1 stars
12/01/20 madmike why even have guns if you never use them 🤣 1 stars
9/12/20 John Paul Ringo-George An accurate review of a disjointed film. But it's watchable if your expectations are low. 3 stars
7/11/20 Rain Hands down the worst movie I’ve seen in a decade or more... 1 stars
4/02/20 Dany Worst movie i have ever watched 1 stars
2/27/20 Chichi Explain the ending 2 stars
2/19/20 Chester Strange hybrid of 1950's giant insect movie and zombies. 2 stars
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  DVD: 17-Mar-2020



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