Saturday, April 4, 2015

Backcountry (2014)

I think this film is betrayed by its give-away marketing and cover image, so here's the review: if you like nature/survival horror, see this, it's good.  Okay, spoilers after the cuteness.

The first section of Backcountry is steeped in nebulous fear.  We meet a couple and watch them traipse off into the woods.  Something bad is coming, we're sure, but it's unclear whether it's the scuzzball Irishman they meet while camping or a canoe injury that could hobble Alex (Jeff Roop).  Or is it a ravenous black bear?  If you looked at the cover, even after I advised you not to, you know the answer is C.

If you know at the outset that this is a bear movie, you feel free to ignore the character-development stuff and the red herrings and just keep eyes peeled for the bear.  But I think that's a mistake.  Pretty much all movies are better if your foreknowledge is limited, but this one especially benefits from viewer ignorance.  The dread that's amassed in the early stages is lessened if you're just waiting for a bear to hop out and start snapping off legs.  Plus you miss out on some mournful romance stuff, especially a heartbreaking fight on a mesa.  Missy Peregrym has apparently previously been famous for her abs, but she shows a ton of acting skill in her performance and Jeff Roop is also quite convincing.

Couples in the woods horror is having a grand flowering right now, but I'd rank this above the likes of Willow Creek.  It'll be interesting to see what director Adam MacDonald produces next. 


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