An urban couple go camping in the Canadian wilderness - where unimaginable beauty sits alongside our most primal fears. Alex (Jeff Roop) is a seasoned outdoorsman while Jenn (Missy Peregrym), a corporate lawyer, is not. After much convincing, and against her better judgment, she agrees to let him take her deep into a Provincial Park to one of his favorite spots - the secluded Blackfoot Trail. On their first night, deep in the forest, they have an unsettling encounter with Brad (Eric Balfour), a strange alpha male with eyes for Jenn who may or may not be following them. Alex's desire to quickly reach Blackfoot Trail only intensifies. They push further and further into the woods, Alex stubbornly insisting that he remembers the way. After three days their path disappears; they are hopelessly lost. Without food or water, they struggle to find their way back, the harsh conditions bringing out the best and worst in them, pushing their already fragile relationship to the breaking point. When...Written by
Movies with predominantly one setting that focus on a solitary storyline have a special appeal to me. Often it means these films have to rely on a gripping narrative and a sense of realism to hold the viewer's attention. Notable examples include 12 Angry Men, Buried and Phone Booth.
Unfortunately, Backcountry doesn't earn a spot on the mantelpiece alongside these other titles. Instead it is reduced to the powdery residue in the fireplace below.
The story begins simply enough. A young, attractive couple seeks to escape to the Canadian wilderness for a nature getaway. Alex (Jeff Roop), a frequent visitor to the park, has a special place in mind for his girlfriend Jenn (Missy Peregrym). Alex, despite being a nature enthusiast, commits a number of questionable decisions.
The first half of the movie, despite the lack of any real conflict and constant foreshadowing, is engaging enough. The unnerving forest setting, especially at night, adds to the unease. So much so, that I am willing to overlook Alex's continued bad judgment. We are also introduced to Brad (Eric Balfour), a supposed nature guide, whose early involvement serves no real purpose other than to add uncertainty to the story.
The highpoint of this movie comes at the halfway point, as the duo arrive to their waterside destination only to be greeted by a sea of trees. The unsettling music really resigns with the viewer as the inevitable feeling of hopelessness that being lost, with no requisite provisions, brings. Unfortunately the movie does not continue on with the tense, agoraphobic atmosphere it has created. Instead it develops into a mishmash of different filming techniques.
Backcountry is director Adam Macdonald's first feature length film and it is evident in the second half of the feature. Shaky cam is used to almost nauseating heights. Any sense of realism is gone as contrived coincidence takes a front row seat in what is an underwhelming finale.
For a much more entertaining wilderness thriller with deeper character development and intriguing plot watch The Edge (1997), starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin.
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