If you go down to the woods today... You may see Jaws.
Throughout the UK’s time in Lockdown, and despite cinemas being closed, we have had a fair few Horror releases! Especially from the Indie sector. A fun couple of Hollywood ones like The Invisible Man and The Hunt, and more Indie ones like Open 24 Hours and Host. But if you're like me and watch Horror pretty much 24/7, new releases just don't come fast enough.
I spend most of my time rewatching movies, especially Horror films from the 80s. I also seek out movies that I’ve missed over the years, or ones that have never jumped on my radar. So every now and again I will write up a little review on a film that’s new to me - and maybe, even new to you. MOVIES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED!
There are no rules, these movies can be from the 60’s, early 2000’s or a more recent flick that may have slipped through the gaps.
This weeks review is courtesy of Adam MacDonald’s 2014 Wilderness Thriller BACKCOUNTRY, which can only be described as ‘Open Water in the woods’.
I went into the movie (also known as Blackfoot Trail) blind - meaning, I didn’t watch the trailer nor read the synopsis. I just knew it was a BEAR movie, which I’m totally into. Having recently watched Into The Grizzly Maze, this popped up on my radar - so I jumped headfirst into the camping trip with Alex and Jenn, played by Jeff Roop (A Dog’s Journey) and Missy Peregrym (Reaper).
The attractive Canadian couple head off for a weekend camping trip; Jenn, lacking experience and worrying about what will be out in the wilderness, and Alex, a self assured ‘expert’ who even turns down the offer of a map by the park ranger. So in laymen’s terms, we have the timid female and fearless man. Stereotypical? Yes. Does it work for the story arc? Absolutely!
Before shit hits the fan, the couple encounter a fellow wilderness explorer, Brad, played by Eric Balfour (boasting a sexy Irish accent) . The strange individual definitely adds some tension into the mix, and manages to open up a few interesting pockets within the couple’s relationship. This boiling pot between them certainly explodes once they get lost.
Yes, lo and behold, action man Alex doesn’t have a clue where they are.
I don’t want to go into too much depth in regards to plot, but this being a BEAR ATTACK movie, needless to say some shit goes DOWN! We don’t see nor hear a peep from the black bear until 48 minutes into the film, which is a pretty good way of keeping the audience on tender hooks...
And when it’s time for the bear’s big screen moment, MacDonald doesn’t disappoint. The initial attack is ferocious, brutal and gory. And from that turning point onwards, it’s non stop sheer terror and a frightening battle for survival.
But here’s the clincher…this movie is loosely based on a TRUE STORY. In 2005 Jacqueline Perry and Mark Jordan were viciously attacked by a black bear at the Missinaibi Lake Provincial Park in northern Ontario. Mr Jordan tried to fight off the bear with a Swiss Army knife as best he could whilst the bear was mauling his wife. With respect, a lot of the facts and scenarios were changed for the movie.
Adam MacDonald may be more commonly known within the Horror Community for his 2017 movie Pyewacket, which had quite the successful festival run then released by IFC Midnight. He also directed the controversial 3rd (and in my opinion superior) season of Slasher (currently on Netflix UK). But the disturbingly good BACKCOUNTRY is MacDonald’s directorial debut!
A taut, terror filled debut, filmed out in the wilderness, and including real footage of a black bear!
Now that’s pretty darn impressive for a first feature film. Props to him for filming real footage as opposed to going down the CGI route. If this is the kind of level MacDonald can pull off on his first feature, I’m very excited about his career as a Director.
In conclusion, if you’re a bear attack movie kind of person and haven’t seen this - get on it straight away. And if you like your horror-thrillers with an edge of your seat atmosphere and a brutal no hold barred 3rd act, then seek out this movie. Heading in with no expectations allowed me to fully immerse myself and the result was a surprising one. And to be quite frank, if I lived anywhere near these kinds of places, LIKE FUCK would I ever consider camping.
A Review by Craig Fisher (@fisherfilms82)
BACKCOUNTRY can be found on Amazon Prime.