Film Review – The Dunes (2021)

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 

The Dunes is currently available to view on Stan  

12 responses to “Film Review – The Dunes (2021)

    • Let me know if you end up catching it. Unsure of international release for this one but hopefully it finds its way onto a streaming platform somewhere.

  1. Put up with robotic acting and drawn out story line (thanks to the fast forward button) but the ending was just lame and explained nothing. An hour and a bit I will never get back but the scenery and filming was beautiful.

  2. I love the movie beautiful scenery, but the ending is confusing! I watched it twice and still didn’t get the ending. I guess both off them lost a brother!!

      • It had me confused in the ending as well. Either, they both lost a brother or he was in fact he’s little brother who got swept away? I dunno, I just suddenly felt his guilt and remorse.

  3. A very bland, draw out piece of nothing. It took the first 20 minutes for the protagonist to travel from LA to Melbourne. The bad grading of the film is turned up so all whites are blue. It ruins the beauty of the Melbourne landscape. There was one discovered body and a death that both seemed irrelevant and uneccessary to the plot plus two unrealistic policeman that came and went. I cant say much more due to spoilers. In the end it’s a dull revenge film with uninteresting revelations and a total anticlimax. I just wondered what the point was and why I’d wasted my time.

  4. It’s May 2023. I need to know the explanation of the ending. I will not sleep again until I know!

    • Might need to reach out to the team via their social channels and ask the questions mate! I know the director is quite active there.

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