Redback is a boot camp in the outback that deals with troubled teens. Andrea is one of the newest ‘recruits’ and begins having visions of a girl who committed suicide and seeks to discover the truth.
The film was a little bit of a mish-mash of two stories and as a whole it didn’t really work completely, but it was a decently made and entertaining film. The first story that we are introduced to focuses on a bunch of teenagers getting snatched and thrown in the back of a van and taken to a boot camp, which is later revealed as having been set up by their parents because they were being naughty. At first I thought it was just a camp run by some power hungry people for no reason (or because they were building an army for something), so that set-up felt a little sloppy (but maybe it was just me not paying attention). I also didn’t think the reasons the teens were there made sense. This could probably be blamed on boot camps and parents rather than the film, but I mean, one girl is in there because her mother thought she was ‘strange’. They all seemed like they had their heads on straight and were just doing typical teen things and their parents were just too lazy to reel them in.
Anyway, despite my anti boot-camp thoughts (aside from voluntary ones), this part was decent enough. The guy in charge looked too much like Rob Brydon and it really distracted me. He didn’t quite have a strong enough presence for that role, but he was still did ok with it. The main group of teens were ok, but varied a bit. The characters all felt a bit stereotyped and I thought Andrea was a weak lead character. The actress was fine, but the character just had no backbone and kind of drifted through everything. Mostly this part of the story was focused on how harsh the conditions are at the camp and I expected this would increase to some bloody crescendo, but then the second story comes in…
Andrea, our lead, hit her head when she was young and since then has some psychic abilities. When people touch her, she sometimes sees glimpses of the future or visions of the past. She sees visions of a girl who used to be at the camp, who was raped, and then apparently committed suicide. This part really doesn’t fit with the other part. I’m not against psychic, supernatural stories, but it just felt out of place and there wasn’t much of a story behind it. She spends the latter half of the film trying to find out what happened and there was really nothing more to it than what we saw originally. There was no real closure at the end and felt wasted.
The story is a bit of a messy mix of two and neither really work well with the other. I wish they’d focused on one of them instead of feeling like half-hearted attempts at both. The director mentioned at the Q&A that the budget was $50,000 and it doesn’t really look or feel it. It’s nothing big-budget, but it uses the budget wisely. It’s an entertaining film with potential that it doesn’t fully live up to, but that doesn’t mean it’s terrible… just not amazing.