Wake in Fright - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Wake in Fright Reviews

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January 11, 2017
a teacher in the Australian outback loses all his money in a bet and ends up trying to get out of a vicious backward town before he becomes like a local!
December 12, 2016
Amazing landscape of the Australian psyche!
November 24, 2016
Scary movie about a man descending to the lowest level of a human being as a protest against the present state of things. But he founds there nothing but darkness, drunkeness, brutality etc. Sometimes it's wise to refuse the "aggressive" hospitality.
½ November 23, 2016
Considered one of the greatest films in Australian history, Wake in Fright sounded like nothing short of a masterpiece.

Wake in Fright is definitely one of the most quintessential Australian films ever made. This is a brilliant accomplishment for a director like Ted Kotcheff, a native of Canada. The reason this works so seamlessly is because of the fact that the story centres around an outsider of Australian culture, a perspective which is very much confronted by the source of all the film's thrills. Wake in Fright is a masterpiece simply because it depicts everyday Australian life in an outback country town stylised to be a psychedelic and intense thriller. It functions perfectly as an example of the genre due to Ted Kotcheff's masterful grip on the feature.
Wake in Fright is very much the Australian version of Easy Rider (1969). The story depicts adventure across the Australian landscape in which the protagonist is confronted with seedy underbelly of real Australian life. The world discovered by John Grant is a violent and hypermasculine world which is endless with wide open spaces and yet so claustrophobic at the same time. There is a sense of similarity in the styles as well because both touch upon a psychedelic feeling of insanity at times. Like Easy Rider, the film is not necessarily about all that much since there isn't a grand focus on character development or an actual story path. Rather, it is simply an examination of real culture with such natural occurrence that it doesn't demand explicit social commentary. The realism in Wake in Fright is the core of its power, and it has the power to create shock effects for people of all different cultures including Australia's own people who will look at their country in a manner like perhaps never before.
Wake in Fright is a flawless examination of real Australian culture. While the characters are depicted as being very giving and maintaining friendly intentions, their blindness to the senselessness of their overbearing behaviour is what is so isolating to outsiders. We see the camaraderie that comes with the characters buying beer for each other and their patriotic respect for the ANZAC soldiers. We also see the inherently violent nature of the men and the melancholic struggles of women in the outback. Wake in Fright captures the positive and negative aspects of real Australian culture in such a manner that it is hilarious when it needs to be and practically terrifying at its most climactic moments. The screenplay is spot on in how it captures this, and it provides a perfect collection of characters to represent the darkness of the outback.
Visually, Wake in Fright USA piece of serious brilliance. The film begins with a full 360 degree turn which emphasises the endless and unforgiving heat of the Australian outback as well as its inherent natural beauty. The colour scheme is so dry that it perfect grasps the heatstroke induced suffering that Australians have to suffer through every summer. The cinematography constantly maintains a grip on the beauty of the Australian outback, though it frequently uses it simply as a backdrop for the actors while maintaining focus on their performances for prolonged periods without a demand for quick cuts. As a result, the cinematography technique both challenges the actors and captures the Australian scenery with perfection. And seeing the sights of 1970's outback Australia with the image of old architecture and vehicles provides a perfect experience of nostalgia to the experience.
One sight that is very much a struggle to handle is the sight of Kangaroos being actually hunted and killed in the story. Though a disclaimer certifies that this was handled by certified hunters, the actual sight of creatures being violently killed on the screen borders upon exploitation. Given the expository nature of the film it is only a reflection of the actual hunting that goes on in the outback every day, but it doesn't make it any more pleasurable to look at. However, it does push the intensity of the film into a far more shocking reality. This is the moment where the quick cuts and sound editing that create the most psychedelic moments in the film reach their endeavour. The entire film is assisted all the more by the brilliance of John Scott's musical score. Given the trippy intensity of the music with its use of western elements and even the didgeridoo to capture a native Australian feeling.
And under the guise of such tenacious direction, Wake in Fright accrues some extremely powerful performances from it's talented cast.
Gary Bond provides a perfectly solid lead actor. Playingnoff his English roots, Gary Bond carries an accent that separates him from the crowd of Australians around him and adds a slight sense of snobbishness to him. But as one goes on and we see John Grant embracing Yabba culture more and more, he gradually turns into a more likeable character. We see him transform into a real outback bludger with typical Aussie banter, beer and even homoeroticism driving his behaviour. Seeing him transform is a powerful period of character development which he later confronts as he becomes terrified at the person he has senselessly become. For a character who is so elusive in his background, Gary Bond manages to develop a greatly understandable protagonist out of John Grant whose insecurities and fears are conveyed to audiences clearly. The intensity in the character's facial expressions are a constant focal point of his performance while the gradual progression of his line delivery becomes more fierce as the story develops. His interactions with the Australian world and the characters he crosses all proves very organic, displaying that the man is one of very natural talents. Gary Bond provides a strong perspective on an outsider experiencing Australian culture as well as the downfalls of manhood, exploring his character's masculinity in a naturally flowing path throughout the story.
Donald Pleasance also provides a strong presence. Though it is hard to forget his strong history as an accomplished English actor, in Wake in Fright he embraces Aussies culture so perfectly that he becomes a solid representation of the country's people. His character carries the downfalls of all the surrounding hypermasculine male characters but also has a more accessible and likeable demeanour to him. However, this just makes him more unpredictable as a result. He isn't the most intense character, but he does make a more friendly presence in the film which provides a feeling that the protagonist isn't as alone. As an Australian, seeing Donald Pleasance taking on such a role nothing short of hilarious. And as an appreciator of genuinely good performing, the overall spirit of the character and his chemistry with Gary Bond provides a powerful sense of chemistry between the two. Donald Pleasance is an awesome supporting player in Wake in Fright.
Chips Rafferty provides a strong supporting effort due to his friendly and somewhat comedic nature being contrasted by a subtle menacing feeling, making him an unpredictable foil. Sylvia Kay also provides a memorably grim and melancholic performance.

Wake in Fright's slow pace and simple narrative may sway some, but it's inherently shocking examination of Australian culture is an insightful and stylish testament to Ted Kotcheff's brilliance as a filmmaker.
½ October 28, 2016
The crux of the film is how things spiral out of control for one professional man, against the back-drop of the Australian Outback, which provides for a very gritty location and storyline.
September 20, 2016
Holy shit dude, see this movie. Gritty, uncomfortable, beautifully shot.
September 8, 2016
Not fine.Whilst well filmed and acted. the story line was too illustrative of the more unpleasant aspects of the Australian male character; happily much less evident today.
August 11, 2016
AKA Outback; This is one of those "horror" movies where a na´ve, possibly too cocky, protagonist gets in over his head. In this case, John Grant (played rather stiffly by Gary Bond) gets stuck in the Australian country town of Bundanyabba (called "The Yabba" for short) where everyone's yer mate and happy to buy you a pot or a schooner. In fact, after Chips Rafferty introduces him to the local haunts, Grant finds himself on a non-stop treadmill of booze, gambling, proffered sex, and then drunken kangaroo hunting (with gruesome real footage). As a viewer, you are as off-guard as Grant, not knowing whether these raucous Aussie blokes are up to no good or not. Donald Pleasance adds to the sense of unease as a former outsider who has now given up everything for the delirium that pervades the Yabba. Can Grant actually escape alive before he too succumbs to the wasted life? The dusty outback looks great and there's an Aussie authenticity here that might just scare you off from travelling outside the major metropolises.
Super Reviewer
½ May 25, 2016
An educated teacher stuck in an backward Aussie Outback town learns about beer drinking, gambling, beer drinking, hunting kangaroos, beer drinking and "d'yawanna anofer beer, mate, there's a good lad." An Australian-style Deliverance, no banjo, no river, but plenty of "squeal like a pig, boy!" Also, be prepared for the wholesale killing of about 20 kangaroos ... despite it being integral to the story.
April 2, 2016
the poor kangaroos :(
March 24, 2016
I saw this film before going to Australia back in the 70 's it truly captures and portrays that hot and claustrophobic atmosphere
January 3, 2016
That kangaroo hunting was brutal !!
½ October 23, 2015
A young school teacher working deep in the Australian outback attempts to go home for his Christmas holidays and gets stranded along the way due to some poor decisions. He hooks up with some hard-drinking men and his vacation sinks into violence and depravity. This was not a popular film on it's initial release due to it's far from sympathetic portrayal of Australian society (or at least rural Australian society). It was thought to be completely lost, but a single print was found. Thank heavens for that. This really is a lost gem. It's rare that film goes for broke quite as spectacularly as this one does and completely succeeds in the process. Donald Pleasence is remarkable in a key role.
½ October 22, 2015
A damn good film, actually. At first I thought it was too slow paced and didn't have enough content, but then the story picked up and what is eventually left is a brilliantly told story about the descent of man in the wild. The film nicely blends John's internal struggle of trying to retain his human decency and intellectualism while engaging in the mindless debauching in an attempt to escape his problems. Sequences and the story are well thought out as well presented. The characters each add something to the story and the acting is pretty good. Overall, a great film about Australian outback culture.
½ October 8, 2015
A mix between Withnail and I and Badlands but predates the films and is way better than the two just mentioned. This film is really gritty and realistic with some great memorable moments. Recommended
½ October 4, 2015
"Ted Kotcheff has infused Wake in Fright with more suspense than most thrillers, and provided a fascinating look at a desolate and depraved wilderness..."
½ September 19, 2015
Very power movie about the worst of humanity. People brought down by their own vices, in horrible violent fashion. The acting is great, the characters are really good (all unlikeable of course), and the story of John is really sad
Super Reviewer
½ July 6, 2015
In "Wake in Fright," John Grant(Gary Bond), a schoolteacher, is looking forward to the Christmas holidays more than anything else. This will give him an opportunity to temporarily leave the Outback in favor of Sydney and his girlfriend Robyn(Nancy Knudsen). But first he has to take a train to the next town where he is scheduled to get a flight out the following morning. And then finds a possible solution to his problems...

Even though it is not the horror movie I was expecting, "Wake in Fright" is still an effective study in how the Australian Outback is not for all people and perfect for others. To that effect, the movie makes very good use of nightmarish imagery and forehshadowing. And it is also one of the few movies to visualize hot weather on screen so well which works towards showing how celebrating Christmas in such a hostile environment can be unsettling while raising the question about whether John is fantasizing about his girlfriend or ice water more.
½ June 28, 2015
A hard movie, reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian", that penetrates an Australia we don't want to acknowledge or think about.
½ June 27, 2015
It is a very powerful movie, but it just didn't hit home with me.
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