Remember eighties movie Red Dawn, in which a group of teenagers defended their town after it was invaded by Russians? This Australian teen movie, based on the first of a series of cult novels by John Marsden, is similar stuff (though without familiar names like Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen in its cast list, or any Commies, of course).
It’s the holidays, and Ellie (Stasey) decides to gather up a few friends for a weekend camping trip. They head off into the rugged Australian countryside, and end up in a secluded bush oasis that locals call ‘Hell’. Cut off with no mobile phone reception, the group of seven bond over firelight and easy-cook noodles before heading back home. But when they get back to their rural town, none of their families are there and they soon realise that Something Has Happened while they were away (could it have something to do with the military planes they saw flying overhead?) Yes, Australia has been invaded by an unnamed foe, and the eight teens have to decide whether to hide out in Hell, find out what has happened to their families, or mount some sort of attack of their own on the invaders.
Anchored by a terrific performance from Stasey as the unofficial leader of the group (hurrah, so nice to have a strong chick at a movie’s centre – take that, Twilight’s whiny Bella), this romps along nicely as the kids try to survive various calamities including gunshot wounds and the mental effects of their predicament. It’s all pretty preposterous, of course, and aside from Ellie, the other kids are more stereotypes than real characters, but first-time director Stuart Beattie keeps the action moving and the adventure tense enough for you to want to see the inevitable sequel.
Is Tomorrow When The War Began suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
There’s nothing here that should bother teenagers.