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Ledoyen and Considine play a young married couple at the end of the 1970s, who come to visit a friend (Oldman) who now lives in the Basque region because he has married a woman from there (Sánchez-Gijón). Their tranquil summer turns to horror when they discover a girl with horribly mutilated hands in the forest. They try to help her by taking her away from the home in which she is locked, but the local villagers, who have to protect the girl, start a pursuit in the forest they know much better than the visitors. Written by
I'm seriously confused about how to properly write a critique on "The Backwoods" without being either overly negative or positive, but nevertheless express my respect to the cast and crew for the film they intended to make. This is a genuine throwback to the era of 70's exploitation film-making, with a truly grim atmosphere and uncompromising violence, but at the same time it's completely unoriginal and derivative. I've read an extended interview with writer/director Koldo Serra, in which he declares that he doesn't understand why so many horror movies are being remade nowadays even though the originals aren't open for any kind of improvement. That might very well be true, and Lord knows I wholeheartedly agree with such a statement, but Serra goes so far in 'bringing homage' to the original classics that he practically copies them as well. "The Backwoods" isn't a remake of any existing 70's flick, but it easily could have been, since it bluntly borrows elements from "Deliverance", "Straw Dogs" and "The Wild Bunch".
Cleverly set in the year 1978, so that the script at least didn't had to take into account malfunctioning mobile phones and navigation systems losing their signal, "The Backwoods" revolves on two couples spending a little vacation deep in nearly impenetrable woods of the Spanish Basque region. Paul, the oldest and wisest of the four, bought the old house of his grandmother there and wants to show the beautiful region to his wife and friends. After some very unfriendly welcoming vibes in the local bar already, the quartet faces the ultimate confrontation with the primitive backwoods community when Paul and Norman discover a neglected young girl chained up in a hidden cabin. The girl is the outgrowth of a humiliating family scandal, and the local patriarch Paco so desperately want to keep her existence secret that he mobilizes the rest of the locals for an old-fashioned manhunt. "The Backwoods" is an uneven mishmash of a film in which downright powerful sequences are altered with dreadful clichés and predictable plot twists. The gritty and relentless atmosphere of 70's survival flicks is marvelously re-created, but the script doesn't have the courage to genuinely shock the audience with twisted little details or perverted undertones like they did in the old days. The filming locations are stupendous and the producers managed to attract a fantastic cast (including the brilliant Gary Oldman and Virginie Ledoyen). It's really a shame this film doesn't feature anything truly unique, because I really wanted to like and recommend it.
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