I’ve read great things about Travis Bain’s Throwback, an Ozzy Indy Yowie monster flick with its eyes on some hefty old-school adventure roots. Though its heart’s in the right place the film’s technical failures and lack of common sense unfortunately reveal an essentially lazy filmmaking process.
The film follows two treasure hunters, (Shawn Brack and Anthony Ring) who venture into the bush for the legendary lost treasure of ‘Thunderclap Newman’. Before the two would-be explorers can claim their prize however, they have to survive the attacks of the deadly Yowie.
Clearly Bain’s scope goes beyond his budget, but rather than tightening the script and keeping the film concise, he takes the amateur blandness of high-school filmmaking and runs with it. Sure, at times the film achieves a kind of hammyness that seems purposeful and oddly comfortable, but that happens rarely. For the most part, Throwback seems childish and ill-conceived. Woeful dialogue and terrible character interaction keep the audience at bay whilst Bain’s Yowie (the Australian Sasquatch) mopes around the brightly-lit forest in its carpet onesie. A monster that looks this half-assed should be wreathed in shadows, caught from the corner of the eye, not paraded where it can never really be taken seriously.
The camera work shows promise, but low quality shooting and bad lighting bleach the screen at times. This kind of overexposure paired with the clunky editing doesn’t really help Throwback’s initial appeal, since – after the great vintage credits- there’s little throwback about this feature except its preposterous story and beautiful scoring. Vernon Wells shows up as charismatic Private Eye, Detective McNabb, and helps maintain audience attention whilst Brack, Ring, and Melanie Serafin fade into the background. His is a far more entertaining character and applaudable for numerous counts of shameless lunacy which serve the film’s tone better than its monster or trashy filming do.
Strange child-like reasoning: using a zippo in a day-lit cave, a nonsensical amputation (Ring goes from panic to self-dismemberment in seconds, beating Cary Elwes’ decision time by hours), and some dumb ideas about treasure hunting make Throwback a bit of a surprise mess. The ideas in themselves are fine but the execution and script fall flat far too often to allow true enjoyment of the film’s nostalgic intentions.
Stars:Shawn Brack, Anthony Ring, Melanie Sarafin, Vernon Wells