Acolytes John Hewitt

Acolytes John Hewitt
Much like another TIFF ’08 Midnight Madness film, Deadgirl, Acolytes is about a group of teens who stumble accidentally onto something quite horrific and then proceed to make a bunch of really bad decisions. That’s where the similarities end, however.

In an idyllic Australian suburb paralyzed by the disappearance of a young woman, a teenager stumbles upon a guy burying something in the woods. Thinking it’s probably little more than a dead animal or some trash, he brings two friends with him to dig it up. You know, just for fun.

When they discover something a bit more disturbing than a dead koala, the trio decide to try and track down the mysterious man who did the burying in the first place. Plagued by a former bully who’s recently returned to town, pals Mark (Sebastian Gregory) and James (Joshua Payne) decide that their discovery is going to allow them to masterfully turn the tables on all the sinister evildoers in their midst and finally exact revenge on their former childhood nemesis.

Unfortunately, but predictably, the two friends (and the girl who constantly threatens to come between them: James’s girlfriend Chasely) get in way over their heads. Before they know it, their spooky romp through the Australian countryside is no longer a lark but has turned into a dark and dangerous adventure.

Acolytes is a really fun and tension-soaked horror thriller that effectively turns the tables on its characters and the audience, switching tone unexpectedly for a sucker-punch of an intense final act. The unbelievably dark, twisted payoff at the end of this clever thriller will leave you reeling as the credits roll over the heart-stopping final shot.

With this effort, director Jon Hewitt will surely be joining the ranks of Australia’s great horror directors. (Stewart and Wall Entertainment)