I’m not a big movie guy; I don’t watch many of them. So often, when I sit my body down and look at the screen, my eyes close as I become passive and relax, no matter how much I was looking forward to watching the movie. Well, this wasn’t the case with “The Cost” – the new Australian feature film from Matthew Holmes.
Filmed entirely on location in Victoria, it was appropriate that its World Premiere took place in Melbourne at Cinema Nova during Monsterfest on Saturday 26 November 2022.
I didn’t know anything about the movie, its actors, plot or synopsis, going into the cinema. I simply ate my small popcorn before the feature began and was ready to take in whatever I was shown on the big screen.
What I came to see was “The Cost” is packed full of drama, with all the twists and turns of a thriller that keeps viewers engaged (and awake.) It also has some horrific moments that are thankfully void of any gratuitous violence – the brutality is worthy. Without spoiling it for you, “The Cost” simply exists due to, “One of the world’s biggest problems: Men sticking their dicks where they don’t belong!”
None of the actors were known to me, but this helped me relate to the situation these everyday Aussies found themselves in. Their weekend away in the bush in a silver Honda was a well-planned retribution to right their family’s wrongdoings of the justice system, but even the best-made plans can of course go wrong, especially when impacted by extreme emotions. At what cost will their retribution be, especially when the point of no return has been crossed? “This has to be done,” was the driving theme, even as one’s moral compass swung like a metronome around true north.
The acting was very real and believable to me, which made it even more gripping. Costuming was bang-on (yes, there was the quintessential Aussie blue Bonds singlet, Driza-bone jacket, etc. but without being clichéd) and the makeup effects were exceptionally well done, not overdone – and certainly drew the right response from the audience at those moments. The site locations chosen, down to the vegetation, were also perfect for the scenes to be played out in. All this added to the believability of the narrative.
Loud applause rang out in the full house at the end of the movie and the end of harrowing journey it took us all on, before an exclusive Q&A with cast and crew took place.
Director Matthew Holmes also co-wrote “The Cost” and said the movie’s script came about, “In response to something that many of us have probably felt when we read about terrible crimes against other people and the feeling of what if something like that happens to someone that I love. And what my gut reaction to that is the need to respond to great violence with great violence, and to explore that part that is in all of us. What if someone did actually act out that thing that they fantasised about in a real-life scenario? How would that actually occur?”
Fellow co-writer Greg Moss said that “What if…” was a key to their writing collaboration that took place across different states of Australia, and they feel like they’re a great writing duo as they both improve each other’s work, and literally finish each other’s sentences.
The fact the movie was shot on weekends over two years in Victoria as the state was experiencing the world’s harshest lockdowns during the pandemic makes it even more incredible that the finished result is such a cohesive portrayal of the predicaments that unfold for each character.
Earlier this month, I read an article on The Sydney Morning Herald about a dark Australian film called “The Stranger” that is our country’s latest hit after attracting a global audience in the tens of millions on Netflix. I watched it and enjoyed it – and I feel “The Cost” is every bit as good, if not better than it, so I hope it too can also register 28 million viewing hours with a month of dropping on Netflix.
After we all filed out into the cinema foyer, I asked co-writer Greg Moss, “What happened to the cat?” He assured me the kitty most likely escaped via an open window. Lucky they have nine lives, when us mortals only get the one.
I then strolled down Lygon Street and ate a plate of gnocchi, pondering justice and what I would do if I found myself in each character’s situation, as I chewed each bite. That was when I realised “The Cost” was certainly thought-provoking, as the best art often tends to be.
More on “The Cost”