FrightFest 2009: The Horseman review

Brutal for breakfast in Australian revenge flick


11am and hoards of devoted horror fans assemble at the Empire for the first screening of the day – Aussie revenger The Horseman.

An hour an a half later the crowd emerges having just witnessed what must surely be a contender for the most brutal film at the festival? (we’ll get back to you Monday...). Throats are slit, nipples are snipped, baseball bats deployed, and errr.... a bicycle pump is inserted into a man’s urethra. Eeeek.



“I walked around my house and just noted down different objects – nasal sprays and fishing hooks and soldering irons and I just thought ‘hmm, where could I put that on the body? What would I do?’ director Steven Kastrissios tells us.

“There were other things I wrote down that people had threatened me with over the years and I thought ‘that’s a really interesting way...!’”

So what about the pump? “That’s something that my girlfriend used to threaten me with.” He laughs. “My ex-girlfriend... She would threaten me with a pencil but I thought a bike pump would be more interesting.”

Thing is at least one of the TF crew was moved to tears. And not cross-your-legs tears, either. It's a film about grief as well as violence

“That’s good to hear. I love making girls cry!” says Kastrissios.



A cross-genre action horror, The Horseman sees quiet pest control worker Christian turn into a single-minded weapon of torture after his daughter is found dead in an alley having been drugged, raped and filmed for a porno. Torture aside, Kastrissios isn’t convinced it’s a horror, “horror is when the good guys are getting killed, when the bad guys are getting killed it’s action.”  But Taken this isn’t, filled as it is, with ambiguity, humanity and moments of stillness. “It’s definitely not a film for the squeamish.” He says “People who are ok with cinema violence seem to understand the subtleties.”

If you’ve missed it at FrightFest, The Horseman opens in theatres 30th October. In the meantime Kastrissios will be pushing on with his next project, an action horror creature feature called Remnants: “it’s an R Rated Ghostbusters in the bush, but they’re not ghosts they’re monsters”. Sold.