Heath Davis unleashes suspense drama ‘Locusts’

Heath Davis and Angus Watts on location.

Ben Geurens and Nathaniel Dean play estranged brothers who are the targets of an extortion racket in director Heath Davis’ suspense-drama Locusts.

Now shooting in Broken Hill, the privately financed film co-stars Jessica McNamee, Steve Le Marquand, Justin Rosniak, Andy McPhee, Damian Hill and Alan Dukes.

Radiologist-turned writer/producer Angus Watts wrote the screenplay which was partly inspired by his experiences growing up in the small NSW town of Quirindi, which went through hard times through drought and erosion, and later witnessing the impact of the end of the mining boom in regional Queensland.

The plot is set in a fictional, remote mining town where desperation, drugs and unemployment are rife. Geurens plays tech entrepreneur Ryan Black, who returns to his hometown for his father’s funeral, reigniting old family tensions as he is reunited with his wise-cracking, ex-con brother Tyson (Dean).

When Ryan crosses paths with a gang of thugs from their father’s shady past, the brothers become entangled in a deadly extortion racket that exposes the dark underbelly of the sleepy town.

McNamee plays Isabella, a no-nonsense single mother, with Le Marquand, Rosniak, Hill and Dukes as members of an ice syndicate gang. McPhee is Jake, a wizened shooter who’s watched the town’s descent from riches to rags over decades.

“The title is a metaphor for the human propensity to consume the world around us without fear of consequences,” says Watts, who first met Davis at the Gold Coast Film Festival a few years ago when the director’s debut film Broke was released.

Discovering they are both fans of Quentin Tarantino, the Coen brothers and Sergio Leone, they spent a couple of years developing the film as a kind of modern noir Western, which is Davis’ follow-up to black comedy Book Week.

Watts said: “I think the concept and the enthusiasm behind it has been infectious to the point we’ve been privileged enough to have so many amazing talented cast members and production crew jump on board.”

The key crew includes DOP Chris Bland (Broke, Book Week), AD Rick Beecroft (Wolf Creek), production manager Tiare Tomaszewski (The Reef, Hacksaw Ridge) and production designer Carlo Crescini (Little Monsters).

Bonsai Films is handling distribution in Australia for free-to-air TV, pay TV, streaming and multimedia platforms. Watts said: “There are a few pathways for theatrical so we’ll be looking more closely at that once we’ve rough cut the film.”

He intends to scout for a foreign sales agent after launching the film at international film festivals.