How does one write a review for the best Australian film ever made? The first thing that comes to mind is to shower it in acclaim as Razor Eaters has risen to levels that no other film from Australia has ever done before. In this day and age to find a film which deserves this unbelievable honor is rarer than finding a living dinosaur in my opinion. Razor Eaters is classy, intrepid and totally refined.
Detective Danny Berdan (Paul Moder) has become obsessed with a recent string of crimes committed by a revolutionary pack of misfits that call themselves Razor Eaters. The gang consists of Zach (Richard Cawthorne), Orville (Teague Rook), Roger (Fletcher Humphrys), Anthony (Campbell Usher) and the man who videotapes all of their exploits Rob (well played by writer/director Shannon Young). The Razor Eaters are like a modernized band of vigilante style Robin Hoods’, only much crazier than that. They take the law into their own hands at a society full of injustice as they extend their punishing methods to politicians, parking inspectors, tailgaters, drug dealers you name it. Berdan is mesmerized by the gang as he exposes himself to endless footage of their crimes from the video tapes that he receives as he starts to lose his sanity.
Unlike other infamous Aussie films like “Romper Stomper” who push the envelope and then pull back once they feel they have gone too far, Razor Eaters marches forward like an unstoppable force to be reckoned with and never hesitates for a second. Shannon Young gets the best out of his entire cast, especially Paul Moder in the performance of his career. He is slowly going mad and doesn’t overplay the role. We can feel his deterioration on the inside without him having to be fanatical or extreme in his behavior. The scene where Berdan arrests Syksey (Angus Sampson) for promoting The Razor Eaters and selling their t-shirts is the most realistic police dialogue I have ever seen committed to celluloid. It wasn’t over dramatized, it was simply straight to the point and as anyone who has had run-ins with the law would know – that is how it really happens! One of my favorite scenes is when a Razor Eaters tape plays in the police station to a room full of cops. The _expression Paul Moder has on his face is a mishmash of trapped, helpless and frustrated as he is surrounded by the burden (almost the same) of his career. During the scene the police look to him for a solution while slowly being seduced by the actions of the gang forcing Berdan into being on his own.
Young’s kinetic filmmaking is electrifying to watch, especially as he tells the story from the perspective of both Berdan and The Razor Eaters in separate fashion then slowly brings the dreary world of the Police into the thrillingly reckless world of the gang. The merger is phenomenal and the linking of the two worlds is thoroughly plausible. A story such as this is usually a hard concept to tackle in such a way to keep peoples interest in the film from start to finish. Razor Eaters does not suffer from such flaws and you won’t find an ending as unpredictable as this one in many other contemporary films which gives me hope in saying that maybe every idea hasn’t yet been done.
What makes this film so notorious is the fact that Shannon Young has modeled the characters on human nature and it is in our nature to be erratic. What may disturb some audiences is the fact that they cannot categorize each character and feel safe with this one and be wary around another. Any and all of the characters can shift gears at any time and that threatens some people. Welcome to reality!
The rarest quality for such an impactful film is that it does give itself time to delve into each character, revealing their emotions and motives with some of the most realistically powerful acting I have seen. An important social statement is made in Razor Eaters, which raises the question – does our society indirectly encourage people to take the law into their own hands? Two reasons, because civilians might be oppressed by people in higher places and feel that those people fall outside of legal punishment because our laws protect them and secondly because of the prospect of becoming a celebrity based on infamy. The film is so chaotic that it seems very far-fetched, but our society has headed in that same direction so gradually that it is more believable than we would like to acknowledge. All of the publics’ knowledge comes from the media and if you know how to manipulate the media then you can change the world’s perception.
Shannon Young has just opened his bag of magic. Sometimes that happens to filmmakers on their first film, sometimes on their second or for most filmmakers it never seems to happen. Young has carved his niche and it can only get better from here, which is a big statement seeing as this film is pretty darn perfect! Young must have given some long time out-of-work Melbourne based effects crew their first big job in years.
Razor Eaters is a brutal tale and a good description of the style would be to say it is kind of like an Abel Ferrara film on a speed binge. Unlike the barrage of Tarantino inspired hip crime knock-offs that flooded our bottom shelves for years, I don’t think that it would be as easy for over-zealous rip-off artists to carbon copy this marvel of a film. Young’s directorial stamp is made up of such strong wax that no one could even try to do it better. Destined to be the next great cult film and deserves to find a great deal of success all over the world. This is the sort of film that makes me proud to be from Australia.