While seemingly at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, horror and comedy can make for extremely comfortable bedfellows. Laughter and terror are two of the most visceral responses a filmmaker can hope to elicit from an audience and, when traversed correctly, the ground between them can prove dramatically fertile.
Australian writer-director Zak Hilditch’s apocalyptic vision is striking in its visuals, bold in its bleakness and completely unoriginal in its core narrative. An asteroid strike in the North Atlantic sends a tsunami of unstoppable fire around the world, with Western Australia the last place to be hit. The people of Perth have 12 hours to contemplate their demise and, as the sky turns hotter, lawlessness rapidly descends – with many choosing suicide or the escape of hard drugs, rather than meeting their fate head on.
The biggest mystery surrounding supernatural drama Backtrack is just what drew the accomplished, chameleon-like Adrien Brody to its leading role. While the actor’s natural intensity is never quite dulled by the pat, predictable story, his character’s insipid search for understanding and meaning in a narrative devoid of either is an emotional and dramatic slog.