Title – The Dunes (2021)
Director – Martin Copping (feature debut)
Cast – Martin Copping, Tim Phillipps, Kate Neilson, Marsha Vassilevskaia
Plot – Working as an LA Times journalist, Nicholas Rice (Copping) finds himself back visiting his small rural home town in Australia where a chance encounter with local William Knight (Phillipps) sets him on a path that will force him to confront his troubled past and deadly future.
“Every small town has big secrets”
Review by Eddie on 29/04/2022
A passion project from long term Australian actor turned director Martin Copping, The Dunes (the other Dune movie from 2021) is a low budget Australian thriller that favours the slow burn, as we follow Copping’s LA based journalist Nicholas Rice on a trip back to his small Australian home town, a town that hides secrets both old and new in a potentially deadly scenario.
Backed through extensive Kickstarter campaigns and a dogged determination from Copping who also wrote this feature to coincide with his leading turn and direction, The Dunes is an at times rough around the edges (not to be unexpected from such a production) feature but there’s enough going on here to ensure that should you be willing to bypass its raw nature, Copping’s dark genre offering is a unique Australian piece that isn’t afraid to shock and provide its share of twists and turns.
Shot in and around the picturesque Australian area of the Mornington Peninsula, The Dune’s pretty backdrops and seaside surrounds mask the sins and evils that exist in Rice’s past and present as he deals with his deteriorating father, past loves and a new contact in the form of Tim Phillipp’s keen spear fisherman William Knight, who starts to play an ever growing presence in Rice’s life back in his old stomping ground.
Unlikely to appeal to those seeking a white knuckle thriller filled with guns, blood and jump scares, The Dunes much prefers thrills in the forms of the psychological and while at times it may be a frustrating experience in a narrative sense through parts of its early and middle stages, as the puzzle comes together in the final act and you begin to grasp just who is who and why certain things are happening, The Dunes offers some memorable moments and impressively staged payoffs that not many will see coming.
Lacking the killer blow or knockout punch that may’ve elevated it to the next level, while unable to produce a genuinely noteworthy performance, with Phillipp’s leaving the biggest impression as the charismatic but also devious Knight, The Dunes isn’t ever quite able to become the film it might’ve been had more stars aligned but it’s an impressive effort from Copping who has shown here that he has what it takes to become a very exciting local talent behind the camera.
Final Say –
At times rough and unrefined, The Dunes remains an impressive independent Australian offering that provides a twisting and turning psychological story that will have you guessing right up until the final moments.
3 packets of Two Minute Noodles out of 5