The Caretaker (2012)
By: Devon B. on September 27, 2013 | Comments
Seminal Films | Region 1, NTSC | 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 5.1 | 96 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Tom Conyers
Starring: Anna Burgess, Clint Dowdell, Colin MacPherson, Lee Mason, Mark White
Screenplay: Tom Conyers
Country: Australia
The Caretaker has been compared to a lot of great films, often because it's drawn some influence from them. Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later and Lifeboat are a few movies I thought of briefly while I was watching The Caretaker, but there were two films that I couldn't help drawing constant comparison to, and this was not a good thing.

The Caretaker is set near Beechworth, but before anyone can make it to the bakery a strange illness sweeps Victoria. It turns out to be more than a little lurgy because being sick leads to vampirism, and it's a quick spreading virus because it's not just affecting Australia but the whole globe. After a vampire attack a few survivors hole up in a house, little knowing that the house harbours an infected man too. The disease free people enter into an uneasy alliance with the vampire that will hopefully enable everyone to see the morrow. Except I guess the vampire because he can't go out in the day, but the concept is roughly the same for him.

The Caretaker takes awhile setting up its situation, but ultimately that didn't matter because I lost the capacity to pay full attention long before the story elements had fallen into place. This was because of the constant comparison I mentioned earlier, and unfortunately the two movies The Caretaker reminded me of the most were Nail Gun Massacre and She Freak. What do these two seemingly very different films have in common? An overbearing score! With Nail Gun Massacre the domineering score just becomes one more thing to laugh at, but The Caretaker isn't that sort of movie, and this film is all but ruined by its overly dramatic and zealous scoring. The score can make scenes seem tacky and often undermines the film's other production values giving the whole movie a cheaper feel. I'm sure somebody worked really hard on all that music, but it's heavy handed and distracting and so incessant that by twenty minutes in I wanted to shove potatoes in my ears. Maybe future releases can take about 75% of the score out and put that on an isolated track, and then I could appreciate the movie proper a bit more, but as is I found The Caretaker a hard slog. I know it seems harsh to write off a low budget movie because of its soundtrack, but it was such an overwhelming component that I found myself unable to focus on the rest of the film for long stretches.

Score aside, I'd say The Caretaker is an okay film with some unique bits, but that it's a bit slow. Despite clearly being a low budget effort, the performances in The Caretaker are usually better than I expected and there are some decent production values for a film of this calibre. There were a few intriguing ideas in the movie, and while the vampires weren't emotionless killers at least they weren't a bunch of Edwards either. The vampires' speedy motion looks pretty silly, but other than that the film is very competent. The movie does source ideas from other genre films, but it also has a fresh enough take on these ideas that it never feels like a rip off.

If the de-soundtracked version ever does materialise I'll give The Caretaker another go, but even with quite a few things going for it I wouldn't sit through it again as is.
The Disc
The Caretaker doesn't look expensive, but it does look clean and clear. Aside from a few artefacts and the occasional judder, it looks good. The credits get destabilised by trees zipping past in the background, but I assume that's a problem on the source material. The audio is available in 2.0 and 5.1 mixes, and I didn't notice much difference between the two, possibly because I kept turning the volume down to avoid hearing more of the score. The 5.1 mix did have a bit more ambience, but this is a dialogue heavy film so there wasn't a lot of opportunity for the 5.1 track to wow. The extras are a 17 minute making of featuring behind the scenes footage and interviews, a silly mash up video clip because evidently there wasn't enough music in the main feature, teaser and full trailers and a commentary track. The commentary is with writer/director Tom Conyers and producer/star Mark White. Some interesting stuff is covered here, like the efforts they went to in order to capture Australia's lighting and colouring and a bit of character study, but I was fairly unengaged with the track as a whole.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
I've made no secret of the fact I'm not a huge fan of vampires, but I am a fan of supporting local cinema and in this case the latter won out. I wouldn't say I regret checking out The Caretaker, but I really struggled to give the film a fair go since it has more intrusive instrumentation than a lot of musicals.
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