Beaten to Death

Beaten to Death
Beaten to Death
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No, this is not HBO’s Bored to Death, a beloved comedy series by Jason Schwartzman. Not even close. Eyes closed and ready to squint; second hand pain coming. With such a simple film title, you can probably guess what’s going to happen to the main character of this frightful Australian movie within its tight duration. Nevertheless, it seems somewhat protracted considering the gory sequences that are hard-to-watch in this B-movie directed and co-written by Sam Curtain.
However much we may plead for some light or comic relief, just be sure there ain’t no way out.

Beaten to Death begins Tarantino style (with adult themes) after a scene where Jack (Thomas Roach), our hero in this film with an R rating, stumbles across a field looking beaten-up all over his face and body. Then it cuts back to 48 hours earlier, and we slowly but surely find out why.

Being hit black and blue as he watched his dead wife lie still on her side at the barn-house standing alone in the middle of nowhere could be termed as a kind of drug deal gone wrong. From here, he encounters another local person who mistakenly believes they have come to help him. Therefore Beaten To Death eventually turns into sick cat-and-mouse game that will likely result in theatre walk-outs due its multiple ultraviolent moments — not infrequent ones if I may add.

Yes there are moments when we look back fondly; for instance Ned (David Tracy), country music blaring from a pickup truck “saves” Jack for now.” Interestingly enough,” Rachel (Nicole Tudor), sold alcohol at an inn where she used play her song while Jack was falling deeper and deeper in love with her.

Then again each “beaten” man comes into contact with one more farmer or countryman on his way. The drug dealer who started this epic cat-and-mouse game calls Jack a “headshot,” referring to his type of suits who may or may not be able to hack it in the real world; if they don’t, they might take a self-inflicted “headshot” to opt out. Jack escapes this man’s clutches by the miracle of a broken beer bottle he fashions as a last-minute weapon. But the movie — which is captured in a high-contrast and slightly desaturated look that somewhat resembles that of the Prime Video series The Boys — refuses to let Jack find solace literally anywhere.

Perhaps Beaten to Death can be seen as something like Jack’s grand tour of apologies. It turns out that each local he encounters is related somehow, so Jack often mutters “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong” to whoever tries killing him. It feels odd though for an almost completely innocent man to keep apologizing but that is probably his only way out.

He apologizes for not being able to pay for the desired drugs initially (Justan Wagner) but obviously two murders (Jack and his wife) were not even close to being proportional response and/or punishment. After all Ned (Tracy) commits himself into such an act because this happens when ruthless revenge is meted on a person who has murdered your brother — except that Jack did it in self-defense only. “Eye for an eye,” says Ned.

The scene is followed by this hard-to-watch sequence where Jack remains awake and asleep, while dreaming of a rescue that never arrives. This is the point at which he contemplates suicide but cannot get himself to do it. Ned even makes blind Jack dig a hole in which he will bury him and Rachael.

Nevertheless, that alone should not make you cringe; it’s every rotten kid in town who spews vile words like sewage.“F” word gets said at least once after every three words or so and becomes monotonous and boring at some point although it helps achieve a very bad nature surrounding Jack throughout his survival journey.

Finally, Beaten to Death’s major selling point is Thomas Roach’s commitment to the part of Jack. All his life, however simple an argument could be made that “don’t do drugs” is all it can mean. The third act simply consists of jack being led around blindly through wilderness for such a long time that we almost want him to see daylight again in whatever way.

It’s just one savage trip without end, nor any visual acuity whatsoever. Although Sam Curtain as the director may not have clear vision but still has confident visuals style for story telling purposes. I wonder what he’ll come up with next – hopefully something happier than beaten to death or with cruelty more meaningful than brutality itself…

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