Some films can be difficult to watch due to their subject matter. Movies like Requiem For A Dream are amazing because of masterful filmmaking and performances, but it’s not exactly an entertaining ride going down the dark rabbit hole of drug use. The Flood is one of those dour films, with repeated depictions of rape and abuse. Writer/director Victoria Wharfe McIntyre’s feature debut centers on a family of indigenous Australians, aka First Nation People, during World War II and the inhumane treatment they suffered at the hands of their white captors.
At the forefront of it all is the mother of the family, Jarah (Alexis Lane). Her small town has been upended by the conscription of soldiers to fight in the Second Great War. After her husband, Waru (Shaka Cook), is sent off to the frontlines, Jarah’s taken to be a servant for a white family, while their daughter, Binda (Simone Landers), is forced to work for the cruel farmer Gerald (Peter McAllum). To make things even worse, the farmer’s sadistic son rapes the Aboriginal women working at the farm.
Upon his return home, Waru is angered by what has happened to his family. While trying to save Binda, a racist, crazed posse hunts them down. Then one of Gerald’s sons, Shamus (Dean Krywood), leads the gang to Jarah, and they rape her. After learning what has befallen her family, Jarah vows to exact revenge on her oppressors.
“After learning what has befallen her family, Jarah vows to exact revenge on her oppressors.”
The Flood feels fragmented, at times intentionally, with some disorienting shots and transitions throughout. However, that feeling is unintentional as the tone takes a sharp turn. McIntyre is set on hammering home the horror of injustices that the First Nation People endured and does a good job of doing so. The first half feels like a gut punch as the leads are raped and abused over and over. We feel sorrow for Jarah as she endures one trauma and travesty after another. But then the second half of the movie jarringly switches gears to being a Tarantino-esque revenge flick. I was too traumatized by the indignities that happened prior to enjoy any of the violent mayhem that followed.
Besides that strange dichotomy, the action-revenge flick tries to send a message of forgiveness and redemption for one of the most egregious perpetrators. Unfortunately, the forgiveness message just feels off, especially after the whole bloody revenge tour that Jarah goes on, killing as many evil people as she could. If you’re looking for a great film about redemption and forgiveness, I recommend Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo. That documentary shows that even murderers can be redeemed, but it’s a long and painstakingly difficult path to meaningful change.
But, I did enjoy the performances in The Flood; Alexis Lane chief among them. Lane does a stellar job of looking like someone who really was mentally broken down by all of the abuse. The actor shows her full range by portraying the slow healing process later in the movie. Cook is excellent as well. You can feel the sorrow and hate in his eyes after he comes home from the war and sees all of the terror that his family has been put through. Krywood also does a standup job, perfectly playing the smirking, good-looking villain that you love to loathe like William Zabka did to such great success in The Karate Kid.
Overall, McIntrye shows off some raw talent. There’s good stuff in The Flood, such as the acting and cinematography. Unfortunately, the story couldn’t bring it all together in a satisfying way.
"…Lane does a stellar job..."