The rate at which Shudder continues to deliver exclusive films is both impressive and exciting for horror fans looking for fresh content. With Halloween season ramping up, the addition of first-time director Tony D’Aquino’s The Furies is another winner and a great compliment to your 31 Days of Halloween Marathon List. On the surface, The Furies may look like your typical “people are hunted for sport” trope, originally made famous ith Richard Connell’s 1924 short story, The Most Dangerous Game. The subgenre would later find success in films like Hard Target (1993), Surviving the Game (1994), Predators (2010), and the recently canceled The Hunt (2019). Even though this basic premise is at the heart of The Furies, the film still manages to look and feel fresh.
In Greek mythology, The Furies were three goddesses of vengeance and retribution who punished men for crimes against the natural order. They were particularly concerned with homicide, unfilial conduct, offenses against the gods, and perjury.” Director Tony D’Aquino immediately makes The Furies of Greek Mythology a clear inspiration for his female leads. The film even opens with one character spray-painting “F*ck Patriarchy” on an alley wall. While the concept of using the Greek Furies may sound badass and seem like it would be a fantastic basis for a flip-the-script female-driven horror movie, the comparisons start and stop with the title.
“[…] a gore-lovers dream.”
The Furies tells the story of Kayla (Airlie Dodds) and Maddie (Ebony Vagulans), life long friends who have a falling out before they each prepare to head their separate ways in life. After a brief and awkward introduction to our Heroine, the film quickly moves us back to the woods previously seen in a gory and fantastic cold open. After several disorientating cuts from bleeding eyes and surgeons equipment, Kayla awakens trapped in a coffin-like box to deafening high pitched sound—a sound that is also heard when participants approach the hunting grounds barrier.
Once free from the coffin, Kayla discovers a large mask-wearing man wielding an equally large ax, in one of the films many chase scenes. Eventually, Kayla is united with other females who are also being hunted by masked killers. After several violent and gory deaths, Kayla and the remaining girls figure out that each of the six beauties (the coffins are all labeled Beauty and Beast) has an assigned beast “protector”. If the masked protector’s beauty dies, so does he. Eventually, the girls all turn on each other leaving the meek Kayla to rise-up and break the rules in order to save herself and find her lost friend Maddie.
The Furies is bulging with ideas from slasher-inspired masked killers, to Kayla’s transformation as a meek follower to a driven leader. Thankfully, the film nails many of these. The Masks worn by the killers are incredible—each mask could be the star attraction in any slasher film. The silent male figures wearing them are intentionally void (outside of one funny wave) of personality. Instead, these masked killers are a symbol of the “typical” male aggression found in horror films of yesteryear.
With the Beasts role diminished to grunting hunks of aggression, it is up to the Beauties to carry the film, and Tony D’Aquino cast is up to the challenge. Airlie Dodds (Kayla) gives the movie’s standout performance. Her vulnerable portrayal of Kayla makes the growth of the character both believable and sad when we see where Kayla ends up. The second stand out performance is from Linda Ngo (Top of the Lake, 2017) as Rose. We meet Rose early on in the film as a child-like home-schooled teen who befriends Kayla in their struggle for survival. The many scenes these two actress share propels the film forward and makes the ending moments even more heartbreaking.
“[…] bloody, brutal, and original.”
Visually, The Furies is gorgeous. This is my first time seeing a film shot by cinematographer Garry Richards, but if it is any indication of his abilities, I look forward to seeing more of his work. Richards and Director D’Aquino bring the deserted “human game board” landscapes to life and make the scenery a vital character in the film. Equally as impressive is the score. Kenneth Lampl and Kirsten Axelholm fill the film with dread-inducing sounds that, at times, reminded me of Toto’s score from Dune (if anyone else gets that vibe let me know).
The Furies is a gore-lovers dream. The kills are bloody, brutal, and original. The movie includes everything from exposed intestines, axes to the face, exploding heads, eyeball removals, and throat slices. Gore-lovers will have a great time. With a run time that’s just shy of ninety-minutes, The Furies never stops or gets bogged down in the hows or whys of what’s happening. However, I did have problems with the ending and the explanation. For me, it felt a little to similar to this years Escape Room but it did leave me wanting to see further adventures of this new-attitude Kayla. The Furies is a fun eightyish-minutes that offers enough kills and gore for hardcore fans and a social message (that I wish the film focused a little more heavily on) to bring in curious social horror fans.
Are you planning on checking out The Furies on Shudder? What is your favorite movie inspired by The Most Dangerous Game? Share your thoughts by heading over to Twitter, Reddit, or in the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!