In director Mike Green’s debut feature film, OUTBACK, a young American couple travel to Australia for an adventure, which quickly spirals into tragedy. OUTBACK was co-written by Green and Brien Kelly, after the pair wrote and directed the short film Mother in 2014 and is supposedly based on a true story. I was expecting something similar to “Wolf Creek” but, instead of there being a serial killer, the killer is the outback.
When Wade (Taylor Wiese) and Lisa (Lauren Lofberg) arrive in Australia, their trip is already off to an awkward start after Lisa turns down Wade’s proposal on the plane. Wade is visibly upset over Lisa’s rejection of his marriage proposal, but Lisa convinces him they should enjoy their vacation, and the two rent a car and plan to drive across Australia and explore the outback. Their first stop is the beach, where Wade is promptly stung on the leg by a jellyfish, the first of many unlucky encounters made worse by a never-ending series of ridiculously bad decisions. In fact, I am convinced that Lisa made the only good decision in the movie when she turned down Wade’s proposal. Although to be fair, I’m still not sure if Wade’s character was written as unintelligent or if the characters are victims of dialogue that needs improvement.
Due to a glitch in the GPS system on the rental car, Wade and Lisa end up lost on a dirt road in the outback and Wade decides it would be a good idea for them to hike to what appears to be a nearby ridge to find out if they can see a road. Of course, this turns out to be a terrible idea because the jellyfish sting is causing Wade to be in a lot of pain and makes walking difficult and the ridge is farther away than they anticipated. Instead of turning around before it gets dark, they keep walking and eventually lose track of the car and are now stranded in the middle of the outback with very little water. Being lost in the outback without food and water is bad enough, but Australia is home to an array of dangerous and deadly creatures, so it isn’t surprising when Lisa is stung by a scorpion in her sleep. Wade finds her unconscious in the morning and doesn’t know what happened to her, so he decides to leave her there while he tries to find help. After this, things quickly go from bad to worse and I lost count of the number of times I had the urge to facepalm at Wade’s outrageous decisions.
Besides their relationship, the only glimpses into the backgrounds of the characters in OUTBACK is when Lisa talks about how much it meant that Wade was there for her when her mother passed away and the revelation that Wade has enlisted in the military. Taylor Wiese convincingly presents Wade as controlling, somewhat impulsive, and not terribly bright and Lauren Lofberg capably portrays Lisa as an initially immature and carefree young woman who undergoes an emotional transformation.
OUTBACK’s underlying message that we should appreciate the little things in life and not take anything for granted is unfortunately lost due to Wade’s insistence on being in control of a situation that he has irreversibly lost control of due to one dimwitted decision after another. Despite the frustration caused by Wade’s refusal to listen to Lisa, the only voice of reason, resulting in his character stubbornly charging towards his fate, this is a movie about a woman who finds the strength to survive a seemingly impossible situation.
OUTBACK is now available on DVD, Digital, and On-Demand from Lionsgate.