. . . yet another backwoods, genetically played-out bunch of rapists and murderers. I'd actually had a decent run lately of NOT saying, "Well, there's another 97 minutes of my life I'll never get back"--and, hey, I watch reality TV, people.
Where to start? Well, how about at the start, when we know immediately that the gun and phone will both be needed. Could it be any heavier-handed? Well, sure it could. Like naming one of the trails the Donner Trail. Somewhat less so is the reference to Willow Creek Trail (Willow Creek being one of the U.S.'s most influential evangelical megachurches), but combine that with the stranger lady's remarks about wedding rings and things being equal in the eyes of the Lord, and the couple's immediate confession (why, to this total stranger?) that they aren't married, and you have a good idea where this is going.
Very shortly, the film becomes, in my mind, unforgivable. It's bad enough that our couple decides a tentless, broad-daylight rut in the woods is a good way to get some rest on the hike, but that Our Hero not only doesn't shoot any or all of the three rubes but obeys his girlfriend's unfathomable insistence that he rid his gun of all the bullets is beyond the pale. I mean, heck, I'm a pacifist, antivivisectionist vegetarian with Mennonite and Jainist tendencies, and I'm pretty sure I'd have shot the weirdos in the kneecaps and got outta Dodge.
And then Cheryl--she who originally seemed to have some brights because she insisted on taking the phone--not only feels frisky that night, after the twisted events of the day, but decides to take a solitary nude dip in the lake at dawn? Sh-yeah, right. That's exactly what you'd do if some menacing creep with a gun had been sniffing the crotch of your jeans, I'll bet.
Like something else I've heard tell of, this just kept rolling downhill. The cinematic ripoffs proliferated (even ripping off Dusk Till Dawn via Deacon's fantasy), and there wasn't a single shock or chill, although there was plenty of the disgusting. The one thing I will credit it for plotwise is that although it included torture--and I am fed up to here with torture in the genre--there was actually a motive behind it that the bad guys could allow themselves to believe in. (Not that that carries a whole lot of weight for me. The Saw crap tries the same thing, and should utterly fail in the mind of any halfway sane person.) Because of this, the bizarre wedding scene, and the usually reasonable production values, I give it a 2 instead of a 1, although I am sorely tempted to deduct both points on the basis of the last second of the film.
One last thing--I'm not only tired of stupid stupid stupid characters and disgusting stuff passing as horror, I'm a little cheesed at religious people so often being depicted as deranged. I could not help, watching this schlock, remembering when my Jewish ex-boyfriend and I went primitive camping in the UP of Michigan some 35 years ago. This was in an era when a LOT of people really did revile you for living together before marriage, and when being a non-Christian American seemed rather rare. We met a born-again Christian and his Catholic wife, who not only did not shame us for our religious views and marital status (which were divulged naturally in the course of conversation) but put up a tarp for us in a rainstorm and then shared their dry firewood and fresh fish with us, sitting up late into the night, talking, drinking coffee, and being kind. I never saw them again--although we did correspond a little that year--but I have never forgotten them and their kindness and acceptance. I wish I'd spent 97 minutes last night trying to find out what had become of them instead.
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