A small regional country town. Everyone knows everyone. Your neighbour is considered family. You have crushes on someone from school who lives down the road from you, but never have the heart to say anything. You go camping with your friends, then after shrugging off some jet fighters flying from out of nowhere, you return home to discover the town has been held hostage… I’m waffling on.
We begin with the hero of the film, Ellie (former Neighbours star Caitlin Stasey) making a dodgy video diary, talking about how she’s ended up where she is now – worn for worse, battered, exhausted, and vigilant. We’re then taken to the start of her story – a regular farm girl who goes to school, maintains the land, hangs out with her best friend Corrie (Rachel Hurd-Wood) and share typical girly stories. They’re growing up and want to go on a camping trip before they return to high school. Upon asking her parents for the 4WD, Ellie’s parents said she can have the car, under 1 condition – the camping trip must have 8 people, including herself. So she enrolls Corrie’s boyfriend Kevin (former Home & Away star Lincoln Lewis), Neighbour and “brother” Homer (Deniz Akdeniz), a religious nutter, a barbie doll city slicker, and a guy from Geography class. The eighth friend, the stoner, joins them later on. (Don’t want spoilers now, do we?)
Upon travelling into the remote valley, nicknamed “Hell”, everything is nearly perfect, until one night, they are woken up by passing jet fighters. Shrugging off the obscure relation to the fighters, the group travels back home and discover that their houses have been abandoned, mobile and home line disconnected, water shut off and no electricity. When they realise something is very wrong, survival instincts kick in and they investigate what is going on – in the central town area. What is meant to be a festival of celebration, ends up be a hostage camp for the town, surrounded by what appears to be Japanese military. Ellie goes to investigate, and sees the captured town, including her parents, in a war camp, alive. But as she witnesses a point blank murder of a civilian who loses patience waiting in line for something, she gets spotted by the military, who go on the hunt for Ellie and her friends. The group return to Homer’s place and devise plans to defeat the army and survive the war, while trying to rescue the town and keeping alive all at the same time.
Due to the low budgets that unfortunately come with the standards of the Australian film industry, Tomorrow When The War Began actually had $20 million thrown at them, and have come up with a brilliant cinematic action piece that would do the industry proud. Australian Author John Marsden, creator of the ‘Tomorrow’ series has had some creative input to the film, which appears he is proud of. The book series has been proven so popular and well written, they are part of the Australian school literature curriculum. For someone who has not read the books at all and only heard of this film through the trailer, it is extremely impressive for a teen action film that would cover young teens to adults and get the full enjoyment out of it.
This could be the stepping stone or jolt in the bum that the Australian film industry needs. The film will make stars out of Caitlin Stasey and ensemble cast, which have terrific chemistry and not a hint of the wooden acting you’d usually see in most Australian films. TWTWB is an action packed, adrenaline pumping movie that is thoroughly entertaining from start to finish, with the climatic ending leaving you wanting more in the series.