The Dunes Image

The Dunes

By Bobby LePire | April 8, 2024

The Dunes is Martin Copping’s feature-length debut as both writer and director. The well-known voice actor produced the dramatic thriller and stars as the main character, Los Angeles Times journalist Nicholas Rice. It is set in the fictional town of The Dunes, nestled along the Mornington Peninsula of Australia. Was critical distance needed, or does the flick deliver the needed tension?

The tenant of Nicholas’s Australian home has mysteriously vanished, leaving the property manager perplexed. To unravel this enigma and reconnect with his family after a long stint in the City of Angels, Nicholas returns to The Dunes. The house bears no signs of a struggle or a break-in, but what’s even more peculiar is the absence of any trace of the tenant. All their belongings have vanished. Nicholas is eager to reunite with his father, but the elder Rice’s age and mental health lead him to ramble about long-forgotten things, creating an emotional void. This mysterious disappearance sets the stage for a thrilling journey.

“…a body is uncovered in his backyard, and William forces himself everywhere Nicholas goes.”

One night, Nicholas answers a knock at the door. Standing there is a stranger whose car battery died while he was out fishing. The man introduces himself as William (Tim Phillips) and expresses gratitude for the help. While waiting for the car to come to life, the two get to know each other over drinks. Unfortunately, they drank a little too much so Williams crashes there for the night. The next day, Nicholas is reconnecting with his first love, Beccy (Marsha Vassilevskaia), when William shows up unannounced. From there, things spiral downward for Nicholas, as a body is uncovered in his backyard, and William forces himself everywhere Nicholas goes. Are the strange happenings and William’s appearance connected, or is it all random fate and bad timing?

There’s only one way The Dunes can end, and sure enough, Copping does not cop out. Then, in the final few minutes, the filmmaker tops even that, proving that even the expected surprises can lay in wait. Obviously, no spoilers, but the last five or so minutes before the credits roll is one brilliant moment followed by another. Happily, the journey to that jaw-dropping conclusion is absorbing from the jump.

The Dunes (2024)

Directed and Written: Martin Copping

Starring: Martin Copping, Tim Phillips, Marsha Vassilevskaia, etc.

Movie score: 10/10

The Dunes Image

"…Australia has long held one of the best and most impressive filmmaking communities the world over."

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