In the horror genre, female filmmakers continue to prove that they are a force to be reckoned with. They've created a very tight knit community, full of support for one another, their creative ideas and the overall success of others in the field. Lost Gully Road, the second feature from academic and filmmaker Donna McRae, is both a remarkable achievement for the Australian filmmaker and women in horror as a whole.
The film follows Lucy (Adele Perovic), a woman on the run from a relationship gone wrong, who's forced to lay low in a secluded forest cabin while waiting for her sister Cassie (Eloise Mignon) to join her. Soon, the location becomes a hell of isolation and boredom with little to no communication with the outside world aside from the cabin owner (Jane Clifton) and a local shopkeeper (John Brumpton), who may or may not have malicious intent.
As the line between days begin to blur, Lucy realizes that she might not be the only presence residing in the cabin as an unexpected entity decides to keep her company...
As a sophomore and very low-budget indie feature, Lost Gully Road brings a lot to the table in terms of production value and creativity. It's a different kind of ghost story, one that sheds obvious genre tropes for a more unique approach. McRae has created a character-driven story that places its main focus on the film's lead instead of striving for a full-blown horror film. This forces the viewer to experience a lot of the same emotions as Lucy, you feel the loneliness, the mounting anxiety, the sense that things could unravel at any given moment, and slowly the terrors of the cabin begin to creep in.
Though the film is a slow-burner, Perovic's stellar performance keeps things interesting, even throughout the long, dialogue free segments. Lucy never feels like just a character in a film, she feels like a real person who's going through real life struggles. In a role that could very easily fall flat on its face, with little interaction from other actors and few lines to be spoken, Perovic's implementation is one to be admired. She is vital to Lost Gully Road's success in all aspects.
Written by McRae and Michael Vale, the film's story, at its base, focuses on issues that often plague women within our social landscape: abusive partners, harassment and perversity, all taking place in an environment devoid of witnesses and people who care to listen. Even from a male perspective, it's difficult to ignore the subtext of Lost Gully Road.
It may not be the most original supernatural film, suffering from a few repetitive moments, but Lost Gully Road does everything right as an independent effort. McRae's exploration of thematic elements and sustained mood elevates Lost Gully Road from a simple haunted house film to a brilliantly crafted and intimate thriller that will haunt the viewer for some time after watching.
Trading in jump-scares for a bleak, lingering atmosphere, the film is vastly different from the rehashed supernatural thrillers that overcrowd the subgenre these days. McRae proves that she's here to stay with Lost Gully Road and her message is urgent and of utmost importance.