In recent years, Australia has garnered something of a reputation for harrowing horror films. Compared to the frothy cheerleader/sorority house slashers coming out of Hollywood, films like Wolf Creek and the Saw series (made by Melbourne duo Leigh Wannell and James Wan) have a particularly grim, sadistic streak.
To that list you can now add Tomboys, the feature debut from writer/director Nathan Hill.
Gay Melbourne actress Sash Milne plays one of the murderous ringleaders in this dark rape-revenge horror film in which a group of country girls kidnap a serial rapist and hold him hostage in a barn. As you can imagine, it wasn’t the most enjoyable of film shoots.
“We shot the film over nine straight days on a rural property in Lilydale, with no break. We all lived on the property and shot all night. It was a pretty harrowing shoot,” Milne told Sydney Star Observer.
“We’d finish each night at about 5am, then we’d have a couple of beers and talk about anything but the film — it takes a little while to unwind after a day of shooting something like that.”
Shooting a horror film in the dead of night in an isolated farmhouse, Milne admitted her nerves occasionally got the better of her.
“It was a bit creepy sometimes. There was a big bull on the property next door that was making very strange noises, so that freaked us out for the first couple of nights until we figured out what it was,” she laughed.
Before she started work on Tomboys, Milne was hardly a horror aficionado.
“I’d only ever watched horror movies at sleepovers when I was 13, so I watched quite a few rape-revenge films when I got the part.”
Sounds like a fun evening in. Of course, rape-revenge is a more political, confrontational breed of film than your typical slasher flick, something Milne said drew her to the project.
“I’m really up for making political films, and films that look at another side of things, which I think this does. It’s very unconventional, having girls as killers. When I talk to people about Tomboys, they often don’t understand that I’m not playing a victim.”
The flipside of this is the danger — particularly for a lesbian actress — that she’s playing into tired stereotypes of the violent, man-hating gay woman.
“I didn’t really think about that at the time, but we made the film a while ago so I’ve had time to consider it. It is interesting, there’s that man-hating lesbian cliché which I didn’t consider. But I think when you consider the premise of the film and why it’s being made, it’s not being made as a man-hating film, it’s much more of a revenge film.
“The girls aren’t necessarily in the right, but there’s a motive behind their actions that’s understandable.”
info: Tomboys is available now to buy on DVD.

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