RAGE ** South Africa 2020 Dir: Jaco Bouwer. 85 mins
Arriving in a small coastal town, friends Roxy (Jane de Wet), Sihle (Shalima Mkongi), Kyle (Tristan de Beer), Leon (David Viviers), Tamsyn (Nicole Fortuin), and Neo (Sihle Mnqwazana) look at the occasion to party on the beach and drink themselves silly every night. The townsfolk, especially Hermien (Lida Botha) and her son Albert (Carel Nel), are welcoming. During a psychedelic trip on the beach, the friends witness a disturbing birth ritual, which could be a hallucination, or not. Soon fertility figurines start to appear at random places, and what is supposed to be the best holiday of their lives turns to horror as the teenagers are picked off one by one as they come into contact with a bizarre fertility cult and must find a way to stop them before they’re part of the next ritual.
“Rage” was a pretty solid if unremarkable effort. One of the better features here is the overall fun setup, involving the modern group of youths arriving at the location intending to use it as a means of partying, doing drugs, and hooking up with whoever they can before the gradual reveal of the dark secret held by the locals, is a nice enough touch to let the film get ready for the gruelling and graphic tortures in place. They’re far more brutal than expected, especially as the perverse means through which the ceremony takes shape, and alongside some decent stalking scenes provide a slew of enjoyable elements to hold this one up. There are some factors here that do bring this one down. One of the main issues here is the absolutely banal and unlikable group that we’re supposed to be following who are leaving them to be even more unappealing and generally unlikable to be around. There’s also a problem with the wholesale lack of information here regarding the actual cult and what they’re really about as we are never given any time to figure out what their history is about, what their purpose for abducting others, or how they’re able to get away with the whole operation as long as they have. This is a big part of the film that is absolutely unknown and ends up giving this quite a lower sense of tension here if nothing makes sense, and with the film’s lower budget on display, these are what brings it down.
Review by Don Anelli
RAGE is out now on UK Digital Platforms courtesy of Reel 2 Reel Films