Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road has been warmly received by the UK critics as the Outback thriller began its cinema roll-out, and the US release is set for October.
The detective story starring Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Ryan Kwanten, Jack Thompson, Tony Barry, Robert Mammone and Tasma Walton opened on seven screens in London, Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Sheffield last Friday, making a respectable £8,400 ($15,000).
Producer David Jowsey told IF the UK distributor Axiom Films plans to expand the release to 28 cities through the end of October.
Typifying the warm critical reception, the Observer’s Mark Kermode declared, “This atmospheric Australian thriller is closer in tone to the measured, brooding unease of Ray Lawrence's Jindabyne than to the visceral thrills and spills of Greg Mclean's Wolf Creek.
“More interested in unpicking the broiling tensions of outback Queensland than in tying up the loose ends of his straggle-threaded whodunnit plot, writer-director Ivan Sen (who also shoots, scores and edits) goes walkabout through the minefield of contemporary Australian culture, offering an evocative snapshot of an unravelling crime scene – social, racial and economic.”
The Guardian’s Leslie Felperin enthused, “Director Ivan Sen's fourth feature evokes old westerns, Polanski's Chinatown and other noir classics, but still feels grounded in the dust and dried blood of the Australian soil. Even place names, like the one of the title, and another called Massacre Creek, suggest a dark history overshadowing the present.
“Widescreen cinematography by Sen himself adds a savage grandeur. The whole thing might have been improved by slightly nippier pacing, but the slow-burn action pays off with a spectacular climactic gun-fight, where the distances are so vast it takes half a second for bullets to find their marks.”
The Times’ Kate Muir hailed Mystery Road as a “detective story that unspools with languid menace on the widescreen of the Australian Outback as a teenage Aboriginal girl is discovered with her throat slit.”
Boutique distributor Well Go USA will launch the film in the US on mid-October. Jowsey hasn’t seen yet a release plan but expects it will go out on a limited number of cinemas followed swiftly by DVD and Video-on-Demand platforms.
Jowsey and Sen are developing Loveland, which the producer describes as a sci-fi assassin saga set in a futuristic Asian Gotham. The plan is to shoot in Australia and an Asian location, possibly Macau.
Jowsey is also working with Porchlight’s Vincent Sheehan on Jasper Jones, a coming-of-age tale based on the best-selling novel by Craig Silvey adapted by Shaun Grant, to be directed by Rachel Perkins.