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In a juvenile detention center, the inmate Dave commits suicide after being abused with his friend Lindsay by the sociopath bullies Steve and Lewis under the indifference of the other cell-mates. The governor sends them to an uninhabited island to improve their relationships and characters under the command of the tough monitor Jed. They meet another camping with female delinquents under the command of veteran soldier Louise and they camp in another area. However, when they are attacked by a pack of dogs and a mysterious man with a cross-bow wearing camouflage, they join forces fighting to survive under the leadership of Callum. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When Steve and Lewis get their legs burned in the hermit's boat, Steve gets his left leg burned. But throughout the rest of the movie, his right leg is shown to be burned, complete with the right trouser leg having a hole where the fire burned through. See more »
Wilderness is directed by Michael J. Bassett and written by Dario Poloni. It stars Sean Pertwee, Alex Reid, Toby Kebbell, Karly Greene, Stephen Wight & Lenora Crichlow.
After the suicide of one of their inmates at a British male young offender institution, a group of teenage offenders and their prison officer, are sent to a remote island for outdoor rehabilitation. Once there, tho, they find that they are not alone as two young female offenders and their officer are also using the island for the same purpose. A battle of the sexes is the least of their collective worries, however, because someone is stalking them. With only one thing on their mind; to kill them all.
Chances are that if you pull ten reviews off of the internet for Wilderness you will find in most of them references to Scum, Dog Soldiers, Battle Royale and Deliverance. Which while it comes across as lazy pigeon-holing, is a fair enough point to make. However, Wilderness, while not being as good as any of those film's, deserves to be allowed to stand on its own two feet with survivalist heart proudly beating in its chest. Yes the story is a touch derivative, but Bassett's film is pleasingly nasty and serves the gore hounds well. After the set up introduces us to the inmates of this wing of Moorgate Prison, where the moody Callum (Kebbell) walks into a den of bullying and suicide, it's clear that these are not characters we are meant to like. This collective bunch consists of robbers, murderers and sex offenders. As a group of people they are as unlikable as it gets, this works a treat once we get to the island and things start to go belly up as they come under attack from an unseen assailant and start to turn on each other in the process. Who do you root for? Eh? Exactly.
With the characters' struggle to bond together to survive, we have the reason why Wilderness should be fairly judged on its own terms. Leaving aside for the moment that it contains inventive and grisly deaths, that it thrusts these young hot-headed adults into a Lord of the Fliesian (there's another one for you) type situation makes for a fascinating watch. Particularly as the sense of dread that lands on the island with the protagonists never leaves the film. There's also a wry observational arc on the British institutional system, we may be ducking from crossbow bolts and snarling German Shephard's, but Bassett and his team are not just about the blood. No sir. Even as Poloni's misanthropic script starts to bite hard, there's still some humour to be found, while Alex Reid's (underused but making a telling mark) tough female ex-soldier is the smartest character in the film. To call this a blood for bloods sake movie like some critics have is just unfair, since some thought has gone into making it exactly not that.
Bassett considerably improves from his debut horror picture, Deathwatch. But Wilderness does have problems to stop it from being a top tier British horror. There's bad decisions made with a couple of the most interesting characters and the reveal of the killer is far too soon. There's also some pacing problems that are further highlighted by some of the average acting from the lesser principals left to carry the story. However, steering us away from dwelling too long on the young bucks caught in the headlights is Kebbell, who oozes charisma as Callum, the character is in truth not fully formed (his moody past is only briefly touched upon), but Kebbell plays him smart yet dangerously feral; a leader in waiting indeed. But it's Wight's turn as a bullyboy Nazi that runs away with the film. He's as dangerous as the person hunting them down, the last person you would want to have to rely upon in a crisis. He is a vile and nasty piece of work that Bassett enjoys playing the audience's sympathies with.
At times brutal and even unforgiving as a human interest piece, Wilderness is a far better survivalist horror than some would have you believe. 7/10
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