One of Fair Game‘s taglines, and the quote that Umbrella Entertainment uses for the cover of their Blu-ray, states, “They hunted her…They used her…Now they pay the price!” That idea of “use” seems to indicate an I Spit On Your Grave approach to filmmaking, as though Mario Andreacchio’s film is primarily a rape/revenge story. But that initial expectation does the film an injustice – it’s not as intentionally confrontational as the aforementioned film or The Last House on the Left, but it still remains tense and brutal in its own way. It’s a great representation of a combination of films, actually, stemming from Mad Max to Road Games and everything in between.
Andreacchio’s film never lets up, starting right from the beginning of the film. There’s very little exposition, but what the audience does glean from the very brief conversations is that our main character, Jessica (Cassandra Delaney), is a wildlife conservationist living on her own in the outback. From there, most of the action helps tell the rest of the story: she’s been terrorized by three kangaroo hunters (Peter Ford, David Sanford, and Garry Who), and she’s afforded no protection because she can’t prove that this is anything more than a boys-will-be-boys game.
That initial encounter between Jessica and three hunters, with Jessica driving in between a trailer and a gigantic truck known as the Beast, is full of suspense, and that’s probably the most mild element of the film. Andreacchio relies on a lot of unspoken elements that the film’s script – written by Rob George – conveys: the outback is hostile territory, so you don’t want to get stuck out there; these hunters are unhinged at best and downright murderous at worst; and there’s really no help for Jessica due to her remote location and lack of telephone.
Fair Game proceeds to ramp up the intensity, starting out with lighter encounters and then progressing as the “game” – think The Most Dangerous Game but in the outback with kangaroos – continues back and forth, with both sides instigating more outlandish behavior. Delaney shows herself to be a great actress, especially since she has to generate a lot of sympathy from a nearly mute character; it also helps that her nakedness at times literally shows how helpless she is in the situation until she steps up to take matters into her own hands. And Ford, Sanford, and Who are quite effective as the bad guys, even when Andreacchio paints them as somewhat cartoonish oafs. It is Ford who delivers the most evil performance, though; his suavity belies a seriously demented nature underneath his sunglasses, and he pulls it off well.
Fair Game‘s most interesting moment, though, occurs in its conclusion when Jessica uses her knowledge of the outback to her advantage, setting up traps made from her demolished house to outwit her harassers. It’s a metaphoical way to show how Jessica’s appreciation of the outback and its animals always trumps the hunters’ destructive tendencies; even though they all live in the area, it’s Jessica who understands it best. While Fair Game is far from being an explicitly environmental film, those connotations do manifest regardless.
Andreacchio’s film is exciting, intense, and at times brutal, and it’s a fast-paced experience all around that never really lets up. The beautiful Delaney helps the audience empathize, the bad guys earn their wrath, and most off all, Fair Game ensures that the viewer will have a lot of fun. That’s pretty complex for such a seemingly simple idea.
Umbrella Entertainment have released Fair Game with a great HD video transfer, which looks particularly clean except for very slight debris and one appearance of a line towards the end of the film. Otherwise, the picture is crisp with a healthy grain appearance, with blacks and colors prominently displayed – and even the usual tendency for sky and dark shots to highlight the white noise have been kept to a minimum. Fair Game looks gorgeous (and hot temperature-wise – outback seems too balmy for me), and Umbrella have done an excellent job. Likewise, the audio – a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track – is excellent with no issues or drops. One complaint, though, is the lack of subtitles despite the website’s description.
Umbrella have assembled a number of extras, most of them revolving around archival footage. There’s a 50 minute behind-the-scenes video during the film’s shooting; two news reports (30 seconds and 2 minutes) that ran during the film’s filming; and an extended interview with Cassandra Delaney from the Not Quite Hollywood interviews that adds about 19 minutes (and she still looks smokin’).
An audio commentary track assembles both Mario Andreacchio and Rob George to shed some light on background about the film. Also, storyboards, image galleries, and trailers add some additional content. A nice bonus feature is a collection of Andreacchio’s short films, totaling 6 at around an hour and a half total.
While there aren’t a lot of new features here, Umbrella’s collection of older footage is great to have, and this seems to be a definitive collection of what viewers would be looking for from Fair Game. Definitely an excellent release.
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