Wake in Fright(1971) - Ted Kotcheff

Wake in Fright is about a school teacher working in the Australian outback. He is traveling to Sydney for some much-needed vacation when he stops in a small town known to the locals as “the yabba”. He gets more than he bargained for and ends up stuck in the yabba with the locals including an alcoholic doctor played by Donald Pleasance. Wake in Fright doesn’t fit comfortably in any sort of genre. I would describe it as a satirical thriller about masculinity, but that kind of sounds like I’m talking about Fight Club or something. Tonally, Wake in Fright feels something like a really intense episode of The Twilight Zone, but with no supernatural twist. It’s a deep exploration of masculinity, and the chaos and violence it breeds. It’s also one of the best films I’ve seen about alcohol abuse as part of a society where everyone is either an enabler or an alcoholic. Donal Pleasance’s penchant for overacting fits perfectly with this film, and he gets to ham it up as the debaucherous drunk doctor. Despite how dark this film gets(and it gets VERY dark), it’s surprisingly funny. I often found myself feeling simultaneously amused and horrified. Speaking of horror, as a Vegan, I feel somewhat obliged to warn you that this film contains some truly disturbing real-life hunting footage. As I understand it, the footage was documented from a real hunting trip and not actually created for the film. And if it makes you feel any better, it was deliberately left in as a clear statement AGAINST hunting. I know that might put some people off, but this movie truly gets my highest recommendation. Wake in Fright is a somewhat forgotten masterpiece.

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