The story centres around John Grant, played by Sean Keenan (Puberty Blues). John’s a rural schoolteacher who’s on his way home to Sydney - when car trouble leaves him stranded in an outback town called Bundanyabba.

But The Yabba, as the locals call it, seems like no place for city boys like John…

Beware, it’s no picnic. But here’s why we think you should watch it. 

1. The action hits you from the start.

The first ten seconds show John sprinting down a dirt road, rifle in hand, closely pursued by a menacing-looking truck. Immediately, we have questions. And immediately, the sense of danger is established. It’s pretty damn exhilarating.

2. It’s a no-nonsense portrayal of rural country life.

Hidden in the shadows of the outback, there exists a whole other world, one that many of us humble Kiwis will likely never experience. This is rough and ready, real-life rural, not the romanticised version we often see on screens.

3. It doesn’t shy away from the darkness.

Starting with the Aussie drinking culture, and spiralling into the criminal underworld, the story faces some pretty troubling issues. But it addresses them head on, unapologetically, with no fear.

4. It’s faithful to the literature and the original film.

The TV remake is essentially the same narrative, just reimagined for the present day. Yet the characters feel fresh, and “somehow, with the passing of time, the story feels even more relevant,” says actor David Wenham.

5. The supporting cast steal the show.

The local cop (played by Wenham) is the perfect calm contrast to John’s hysteria. The bull-headed antagonist invokes genuine fear. Then there’s Ursula, played by our very own Robyn Malcolm, who is almost as mysterious as the town itself.

6. Despite the dark premise, the cinematography is beautiful.

Establishing shots of the vast red desert paint a picture of isolation. The increasingly sinister flashback scenes, and jerky slow-motion filming reflect John's loss of control. 

7. John is a new version of antihero.

He makes stupid decision after stupid decision, and although it's frustrating, we can’t help but sympathise. Maybe John’s weak, but he’s all alone in a hostile environment, and we’re just praying for him to get of there alive.

8. It will keep you guessing.

If you’re not familiar with the original story, Wake in Fright is a real mind boggle. The Yabba is a town full of secrets, there’s surprises around every corner, and you can never really be certain what’s real and what’s imaginary.

9. It ends with a bang.

We won’t spoil it, but the conclusion’s sure to leave you reeling.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you. 

The mini-series is available to stream now on TVNZ OnDemand.

Sean Keenan as John Grant.
John Grant, stranded in the outback.
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