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“Locusts” — Symbolism of Destruction in an Australian Mining Town

Directed by Heath Davis | Review by Triptayan Chatterjee

Writer | Producer | Angus Watts

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]eath Davis’ “Locusts” is a symbolic masterstroke comparing a decaying society in a has-been mining town, to the destruction of farmland caused by locusts. The story portrays the dangerous consequences of such an aftermath.

Ultimately, we see the demise of a social structure.

Davis establishes a universal message in his feature-length film, with a deep-rooted theme, as well as a strong plot, and script.

There’s no extravaganza in the straightforward cinematography. This lack of device adds to the remote feeling that we get from the mining town in “Locusts“.

Long shot overlooking deserted a mining town in Australia.
Screenshot — “Locusts”

The storyline may be a crime thriller, but the deeper meaning shows contemporary life in a decaying stage.

Supporting cast members bring a believability to the film.

What’s more —

Their existence in the deserted mining town instills a feeling of loneliness.

Insects as Symbolism

“LOCUSTS” uses the theme of grasshoppers, who collectively make massive attacks on fields stripping them of their crops and leaving everything in their path destroyed.

This symbolism alludes to the film’s theme.

Once there was a thriving if remote, mining town with incredible history, wealth, and abundance.

After big companies strip the mines of all they have to offer, they go away, leaving the place and the people like orphans, wracked with mental and physical health problems, as well as the health hazards left behind from the mining.

As time passes, both the chemical and socioeconomic side effects intensify.

Ryan Black looking over the desolation left by mining in "Locusts"
Image via IMDb — Ryan Black

In this context, Ryan Black — played by Ben Geurens, is a devastated and failed businessman who comes back to his native town and meets up with his brother, the con artist.

Black must face the new order in town with all its evils. As their community falls under gang war, the original culture of the mining town fades away, and we see a gradual fall of human life.

Greed wiped everything out, much like the locusts when they ravage farmlands.

Crime and locusts

Genre isn’t all that makes a great film and often it’s hard to define a movie by genre.

A good film may break all the norms and set an example in history.

Traditionally “Locusts” can be described as a crime thriller. But if we look into the depth of the film, it’s clear that Davis intends a reflection of the socioeconomic evolution of a particular place.

This fragment, a glimpse into a decaying society, ultimately represents the whole world, and in this sense it is universal.

The storyline between Ryan and Tyson is the story of humans in any industrial city in the world, and the consequence is also the same.

Film production and cinematography

Davis filmed “Locusts” in the Broken Hill area of Australia, which perfectly reflects the natural landscape behind the storyline.

He brings the audience a sensational film which engulfs them in the aspect of the mining town.

The nearly monotone color and the expansive nature of the landscape gives the film an extra dimension.

Close up of a barb wire fence at sunset.
Screenshot — “Locusts”

One symbolic scene at sunset is a close-up of barbed wire wrapping around the mine shows that no one who doesn’t know the dangers that lurk unseen should enter.

A soft song playing while driving along the desert town brings a sentimental feeling to the complex conflict among the characters playing here.

In turn, the cinematic long shots give the film an outlook of the theme conveying the ramifications of overworking the land.

All these details reflect well-prepared cinematography and editing. Davis not only arranged the film but also paid attention to all the pieces that bring authenticity to the story.

Final Analysis

According to the director’s statement, the film centers on three points, one is unemployment, and the others are the result — sickness and desperation.

Shutting down the mines causes widespread unemployment, while sickness is the side effect of the infrastructural industrialization. In desperation to stay alive, crime is the outcome.

So, though “Locusts” on the surface is a crime-thriller, it’s something much more.

Instead, “Locusts” analyzes the birth and growth of the crime. The remote mining town is the right place for emphasizing this theme.

In today’s filmmaking, there are two streams. We divide these two streams as arthouse and commercial.

“Locusts” has enough of each of the two streams’ elements to be a successful commercial film but its analytical mode of presentation also makes it a solid arthouse film.

Amalgamating these two streams, keeping itself far from a defined genre, “Locusts” stands out as a uniquely creative presentation.

We expect more films like this from Heath Davis and his team!

LOCUSTS Extended Teaser

Triptayan Chatterjee

Triptayan is a filmmaker looking for a different horizon. Earlier a journalist Triptayan has done intensive research on film language and made different documentaries so far. He is now concentrating upon feature film in a vast landscape. Professionally a teacher, Triptayan has also passion for making films threaded with international and universal thoughts.


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