Australia is hot, so hot, and full of animals that won't hesitate to munch on you. We've seen all kinds of menacing outback stories, their villains include weather, snakes, crocodiles, psycho killers and even ghosts. In this one, for Wade and Lisa, two American tourists, the biggest villains might be their own decisions, before it's the outback. However, it does claim to be based on a true story, but, as you read the facts they present before the end titles, does it make the movie better in retrospect, justified?
Lisa Sachs and Wade Kelly are a young couple on a vacation in Australia and very much down for an adventure. Naturally, a string of shabby and a couple of real questionable decisions get made, before they find themselves in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but desert. the scorching sun and the smaller dangerous outback inhabitants. The latter of which there's a lack of, if we take into account what all the posters are selling. Speaking of which, one poster tells "based on a true story", and the other "based on an urban legend" - not knowing much more beforehand, the "urban legend" part originally intrigued me. Well - and I believe this is not a spoiler - in the very first minutes of "Outback", it tells us that the true story (that took place in 2015) is the urban legend, has become one. A little lame, if you ask me. Though I gave it all but 20 minutes, in my research I found lots of stories about missing persons, deaths and survival adventures in the outback, but not a single one that could be what "Outback" is based on - even though there's a fair amount of usable information presented in the movie itself, information that's passed as true in our non-fictional world.
Big part of the movie is also about the couple's relationship problems, the values of love and being with your loved ones. It's a slow melodrama and it pokes holes in the already not-so-stable grit of "Outback", but in return it prompts sympathies from the audience, as it is indeed quite human. Almost exclusively the only stars of "Outback", Taylor Wiese and Lauren Lofberg give good and grounded performances, helping "Outback" maintaining its level of engagement. The summary moving speed is still rather unhurried, and it's a drama before it's a thriller.
As it is no surprise for many indie films nowadays, what's lacking in substance is tried to make up for in the aesthetical side of things. Tim Nagle, cinematographer of the stylish zombie flick "Wyrmwood", has taken care of that and given us a consistently well-composed cinematography that really could not be described as lazy. As far as special effects and gore go, you're in for very little. We mostly survive heat, desert and dryness in this one.
I can say that despite the slow pacing, it didn't require much dedication to keep being in it, but there are plenty of questionable parts, plenty of underwhelming turns, and once again I must say it's a case of "it's lesser than the sum of it's good parts". It's a 4/10 from me. In some places I just wanted our favorite outback menace, Mick Taylor, to come out and save this trip.