Female-driven thriller ‘The Furies’ subverts the genre

Tony D’Aquino and Garry Richards. Photo credit: James Foulds.

Now shooting in Canberra, writer-director Tony D’Aquino’s debut feature The Furies (formerly Killer Instinct)  is a female-driven survival thriller which flips the genre on its head.

The plot follows eight young women who are abducted and forced to take part in a deadly game. Rather than show the lead character as a victim she is portrayed as a hero in the face of extreme terror.

Produced by Lisa Shaunessy (Killing Ground) with Christian Doran as line producer, it’s the first feature from Canberra-based film studio The Film Distillery headed by Andy Marriott. The title refers to women in Greek mythology who exacted revenge on men who wronged them.

It’s also the first project from the innovative Accelerator POD initiative conceived by The Film Distillery, Screen Canberra and international sales agent Odin’s Eye Entertainment.

In that development program filmmakers submit scripts via Screen Canberra for appraisal by Odin’s Eye Entertainment. The Film Distillery then partners with creative teams whose scripts are deemed commercially viable, options their screenplays, provides script-to-screen guidance and teams them with professional producers to bring projects to life.

The lead role of Kayla is played by Airlie Dodds, who starred in Damien Power’s horror film Killing Ground and will appear in Heath Davis’ black comedy Book Week. Her credits include Neighbours, Ready For This and Rake.

The cast includes Danielle Horvat (Neighbours, Winners & Losers, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) Linda Ngo (Top of the Lake) and Taylor Ferguson (The Turning, Strangerland, Cleverman).

Among the Canberra-based talent are Harriet Davies (Joe Cinque’s Consolation), Kaitlyn Boye and Jessica Baker.

(L-R) Airlie Dodds, Tony D’Aquino, Linda Ngo, Harriet Davies, Taylor Ferguson, Jessica Baker and Kaitlyn Boye.

The production is employing a sizable number of local crew in addition to DOP Garry Richards (Patrick) and prosthetics creator Larry Van Duynhoven (Cargo, The Nightingale, Hacksaw Ridge).

Shaunessy tells IF: “The film is a play on the traditional survival thriller, where the lead female character is a hero rather than a victim. While audiences will enjoy all the tropes of the genre, the script speaks to the inherent objectification of women in a voyeuristic society and will make people question their own point of view on what value that carries in today’s world.”

Odin’s Eye Entertainment’s Michael Favelle said: “The film turns the genre on its head and deals with the issue of female empowerment. It is an homage to the slasher/horror films of the 1980s but brought into the modern age.”

Marriott added: “It’s so rewarding to be able to produce a feature film using talented cast and crew found in Canberra. There’s no reason why projects like this can’t be developed in the ACT on a regular basis and that’s exactly what we intend to do at The Film Distillery.”

Budgeted at $1.5 million, the production is financed by The Film Distillery, Odin’s Eye, Screen Canberra, private investors in Canberra and the Producer Offset.

Shaunessy says that is a viable financing model which can be applied to a raft of films from The Film Distillery. More projects are expected to be announced soon. The Furies is due for release in Australia in December via Odin’s Eye, which is handling worldwide sales.