American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire is the deranged brainchild of Flood Reed, who, according to his IMDb profile, is a circus performer and subconscious drifter who likes to appear in the nightmares of children and the occasional LSD-induced hallucination. However, when he's not scaring kids and enhancing trips, he sometimes acts in, writes and directs movies. One such movie is the topic of this review: a demented dose of backwoods debauchery that's already received critical acclaim by winning Rue Morgue Magazines, "Goriest Scene of the Year Award" and Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Editing at the 8th Annual Shockfest Film Festival.
A fitting way to describe American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire would be Deliverance (1972) meets Jack Ketchum's Offspring (2009), although comparing it these films is only a brief indication of what to expect here. American Backwoods is a lethal concoction of hillbilly horror, cannibal caper and creature feature, infused with black humour and copious amounts of violent carnage to create one of the most gleefully gruesome movies you're likely to see this year.
The story follows a group of 4 guys who set out for one last hurrah at a strip club before college life separates them for the foreseeable future. They're a fun bunch of miscreants who just want to see some boobs and find some loose women to engage in sexual acts with; very similar to groups of friends we've seen in countless other horror flicks. Along the way they encounter a creepy professor, an unpleasant gas station attendant and a homosexual police officer who doesn't appear to be who he says he is. After deeming their vehicle unfit to drive, the police officer calls a mechanic who takes them to his trailer – and prepares them for the hunt.
Up until they reach the trailer American Backwoods is an offbeat bro- comedy that wouldn't seem out of place as a Harold & Kumar sequel. The strip club is their White Castle and on their journey they meet some oddball characters. Kudos have to be given for leading the viewer into a false sense of security; just as we start to think it might be a lighthearted romp, it does a complete 180 and drags us by the teeth into the abyss. Once it gets going it's an unrelenting nightmare of inescapable danger at every turn – involving rapist yokels, cannibalistic cave dwellers and a mystical beast. With so many ingredients in the pot, it risks becoming a convoluted mess: I'm happy to report that it makes for a tasty treat, effortlessly shifting gears with unforced, natural ease.
More often than not, low budget independent horror suffers from the same pitfalls: bad acting, below par production values, paper thin characters, etc. In American Backwoods every actor is solid and convincing in their roles, with the majority of characters being given ample amounts of screen time to make an impression and flex their chops. Most of the characters are given enough of a backstory that they actually come across as people and not just bodies to be slaughtered. Furthermore, the movie looks great: visually it's clear to see what's going on, and at times, it's reminiscent of an Oliver Stone movie. As for the gore, well that's just outstanding: there's one gag in particularly that'll make you think twice about receiving oral sex in a trailer again anytime soon. Let it be a warning to you hillbilly rapists out there.
All in all, American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire is a violent, visceral treat that takes a well-trodden formula and gives it some extra layers. This is a must see for those who like their horror unapologetic and sleazy, while creating some laughs at the expense of heinous acts without ever losing its horrific edge. Excellent acting, a good script, an ambitious story and interesting characters provide a solid foundation for the mayhem to spray blood and spill guts all over, making it an unhinged, filthy little gem waiting to be discovered. 8/10
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