Movie Review - Scarfies, a New Zealand Film
This film was made in the New Zealand film industry and is a rather dark comedy. It follows a group of five strangers, who ‘find’ an empty house in the lovely town Dunedin and decide to move in. The house is an absolute dump, and while trying to fix it up, they come across an enormous marihuana farm in the basement. They think they’ve found paradise, and finally decide to sell the stuff and get very rich. With their money they all buy nice things for the house, and tickets for the next big rugby game. But Emma (Willa O’neill) forgets her ticket, and while she runs back into the house to get it, she finds someone in the basement. Startled, she quickly shuts the door and locks him in. The guy, named Kevin, wants to know what happened to his crops, and where the money is. While the group keeps the man kidnapped in their basement, they try to figure out what to do next. Call the cops, give this guy the money they already spend and set him free, or maybe even murder him.
The film starts out rather funny. This group of totally different people live in a horribly dirty house together. They fall in love and they have fun. When they find the marijuana in the basement, they think they’ve hit the jackpot. The kidnapping is funny at first, especially when the group of five dresses up in white sheets, so the man can’t see their faces. They start torturing Kevin for information and to make sure he won’t kill them, but Kevin has some games of his own up his sleeve. After a while the film turns very dark and the humour is gone. Kevin tries to divide them, and the bond between the group starts to show some cracks when the situation gets dire. They even start to consider murdering their prisoner, and this creates anxiety and stress. Near the end the comedy comes back, and the movie ends on a much lighter note. But it struggles to find a genre for itself and switches around between comedy and dark psychological drama.
The ending is very abrupt and quite a strange turn, definitely very unexpected. It leaves you wondering what the hell just happened, and what you would have done. I actually quite liked the surprise ending, because the actors have you believing there is only one way out.
The actor Jon Brazier, who plays the kidnapped Kevin, is brilliant. At first you feel sorry for him, but he scares the viewer too. He is capable of conveying a mix of emotions with just his stare. I also really liked the boy who played Graham, the actor Charlie Bleakley. He has a very expressive face, and holds his own amongst the others in the group. He does the young, in love and naive little boy very well.
If you like arthouse cinema, this is definitely a movie to watch. You will find yourself wondering what happened, but also smiling afterwards. I definitely want to see some more of the New Zealand made films. After all, this is the land where Peter Jackson is from!