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March 4, 2013

Movie Review: The Caretaker (2012, DVD)

Review By: Rob Sibley

I've always appreciated Aussie cinema. Back in the seventies and the eighties they were cranking killer flicks. Everything from crazy biker flicks like 1974's “Stone” to more art house classics like “Wake In Fright”. Not to mention the dozens of great exploitation flicks from Brian Trenchard Smith. They even tackled the killer beast genre with the stellar “Razorback”. Of coarse Mad Max is the film that put Aussie cinema on the map. Sadly by the 90's it seemed like all hope was gone, the big Aussie cinema boom was over with.

That all changed when Greg Mclean burst onto the scene with his modern day stalk/slash classic “Wolf Creek”. It gave Aussie cinema that much needed shot of adrenalin and since then they've been turning out some fine films. Mclean would return to the Aussie horror scene in 2007 with the superior killer croc flick “Rogue”. That same year we were treated to the Aussie backwoods delight “Storm Warning” directed by Jamie Blanks. In 2009 we got a gory taste at romance gone wrong with “The Loved Ones” and 2010 we were given a nice double dose of Aussie flicks with the some man turned beast splatter in Josh Reed's “Primal”. Not to mention the fantastic western/thriller “Red Hill”. Now we have the Australian vampire flick “The Caretaker”.

The plot is simple, a wave of vampirism has hit the Aussie country side. Only this small little down has no clue what's causing the flu like epidemic where those sickened begin to behave violently.

The film nails the tone from frame one. Some melancholy classical music plays over the beautiful, yet bleak Australian country side. The first character were introduced to is Dr. Ford Grainger. (Mark White) making a house call due to Lester's(Colin MacPherson) sick mother and she's not suffering from the common cold...

Next were introduced to a bickering couple, Guy (Clint Dowdell) & Annie (Anna Burgess). Their relationship is on the rocks to say the least. Lastly we meet up with a real piece of work, Ron (Lee Mason) who has formed an odd misogynistic group of followers. Who pretty much blame women for all there problems in life.

As this sickness takes hold of the town and vampires begin to cause chaos. All of are main characters make it to Lester's countryside house. Where they meet up with Ford Grainger who turns out to be a vampire. He has a simple proposition for them. “So here's my deal, you protect me from your kind during the day and I'll protect you from mine at night.”

I've been waiting on a good vampire film for a while now. Luckily this one fits the bill perfectly, I had a blast with this film. It delivered on the elements that I crave from a vampire movie and on top of that the film features some very memorable performances and top notch cinematography.

The most memorable performance comes from Mark White as the doctor/vampire who waxes on poetic about the meaning of life and various philosophical topics. It's also interesting to take note that White was also one of the films producers. My only real complaint with the cast is with Anna Burgess character, her character isn't that likeable and she comes off as quite bitchy and hard to sympathize with. I don't think that was the filmmakers intent.

Some over acting aside the film delivers the bloody goods as well. There is more then enough blood on display here to stratify any vampire film fan. Don't expect a splatter fest though as this film focuses more on the characters and the tension then it does the bloodshed. If you enjoy a good low budget vampire film you'll definitely get a kick of “The Caretaker”. Here's hoping we get a sequel!

The 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is pretty damn beautiful, the entire film is bathed in luscious amber tint. Contrast is spot on, the blacks are nice and deep. We get pretty much zero digital noise. My only real complaint is some nasty aliasing that pops up in a few places, but it's a minor occurrence. For a low budget film this looks amazing and I only wish that MTI would have given this a proper Blu-ray release.

For audio you get a 5.0 and a 2.0 track to choose from.

Extra's are very nice with this release from MTI. First up a commentary track featuring director Tom Conyers and producer/actor Mark White. It's a fun listen that's a good mixture of the technical side of making of the picture and fun facts about the concept and casting.

Next up is a 17:29 making of segment that features a nice mix of talking head interviews and behind the scenes footage. It's worth a watch, everyone involved is obviously very pleased (as they should be) to be involved in the picture.

We also get a teaser and theatrical trailer both which are very well done. Last but not least is a little extra titled “Lesters Rap”, which is a funny little watch,

Caretaker is a marvelously made Aussie vampire flick, it comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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