The last film to be shot in Saskatchewan with the help of the provincial tax credit, Ferocious only solidifies Saskatchewan’s reputation for quality film making.
Written and directed by Robert Cuffley, this thriller will have you clutching your armrests in suspense.
Ferocious follows Leigh Parrish (Amanda Crew), a television actress returning to her hometown for a publicity tour accompanied by her manager, Callum Beck (Dustin Milligan). On her first evening back, Leigh ventures out to confront a man who is seemingly extorting her, only for said man to be killed in an ensuing fight.
The bar manager, Eric, played by Saskatoon-born Michael Eklund, traps Leigh and an unwitting accomplice named Tess (Katie Boland) in a room. The two girls must find a way to escape while Eric decides whether or not to summon his boss, the victim’s brother, a cruel and ruthless man known only as Sal. Sal is played by University of Saskatchewan drama alum Kim Coates, who was also born in Saskatoon.
The tension throughout the film is built up remarkably well. Stakes are high for all characters, and Cuffley fully immerses the audience in the action. The majority of the movie is filmed in an enclosed room with uncomfortable angles and an intriguing mix of cuts and voiceovers. The unusual presentation forces the audience to remain as alert and on-guard as the characters.
The actors relay the difficult decisions and fears their characters face remarkably well. Coates’ Sal is a fantastic villain. Every confrontation with him has the audience fearing for the lives of those in his presence. Crew is no slouch, either. As the viewer learns more about Leigh’s situation, it becomes apparent that no one in this film is completely innocent.
There are no special effects in Ferocious, no CGI monsters or wild gunfights. The premise pits people against people, and the characters’ internal and external conflicts will have you wondering about the complexities of human nature.
While Saskatoon residents will recognize most of the places shown in the film, the city is never actually referenced by name — it’s called “Tinytown” in a few scenes. The city is initially portrayed as quiet and friendly, but the film eventually reveals its dark underbelly, which works as a well-handled parallel of the characters.
With the loss of Saskatchewan’s film tax credit, we may not see local films of this calibre again any time soon. But fans of thrillers and indie films can take comfort knowing Ferocious ends the tax credit on a high note. At 93 minutes, everything fits into place without feeling either rushed or drawn-out. Ferocious is worth seeing in theatres while you have the chance.