Toronto Film Festival – schedule for Acolytes


Joel Edgerton in Acolytes
Joel Edgerton in Acolytes


Following the disappearance of a young female classmate, shy high-schooler Mark (Sebastian Gregory) stumbles upon a fresh grave in the woods of his peaceful suburb, and spies an SUV driving away from the scene.

With the help of two friends – James (Joshua Payne) and his girlfriend Chasely (Hanna Mangan-Lawrence) – Mark decides to return to the scene to dig up what they imagine is simply someone’s dead pet. Their bit of fun turns perilous, however, when they unearth the body of a Canadian backpacker. They embark upon a hunt for the identity of the killer, and James soon realizes that their grim discovery could help them exact revenge upon Gary Parker, a brutal bully who had robbed them of their innocence years before and was recently released from prison.

In the proud tradition of Aussie horror films (illustrated in this year’s Not Quite Hollywood), Acolytes quickly turns into a sinister tale of deception and betrayal. The three teens find themselves in over their heads, trying to outwit a serial killer as he turns the tables on them and lures them into his violent world.

Hewitt’s initial depiction of the tranquil comfort zone of the suburbs slowly mutates, building a tense atmosphere upon the revelation that the teens’ homogeneous community is really a minefield of dark secrets. Conveying a genuine freshness, the performances from Hewitt’s young stars are impressive, bringing to life believable characters poised on the brink of adulthood.

Acolytes is a tight and chilling thriller where the delicate and evocative beauty of the Australian landscape – rendered in sweeping CinemaScope – is betrayed by the horrors beneath the surface.

Colin Geddes