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Backcountry is based off a similar real life incident which took place in northern Ontario, Canada and it centers around a couple who have decided to take some time away from it all to go portaging; Alex (Jeff Roop) is definitely more keen on the idea and Jenn (Missy Peregrym) is along for the ride.
As they venture further and further into the woods to make it to a particularly beautiful spot that Alex remembers from childhood trips with his family, we become increasingly tense, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Everything seems so picturesque at this point; Alex and Jenn are obviously in love, they seem to be having a great time together, and although Jenn seems slightly hesitant about the whole idea, she’s willing to go along with it because she loves Alex. When they finally climb the ridge to the final spot, the spot isn’t there. They’ve somehow gotten turned around and they are now lost. They now have to try and find their way back to civilization. What’s worse is that it becomes apparent that there’s a hungry predator on their trail.
This movie really knows how to build tension. We spend so much time expecting something terrible to happen that when it finally does, it’s almost a relief. The fear in this movie, much like with all successful horror movies, is in the possibilities more than in the action. It’s in not knowing when it will happen, it’s in being constantly on edge and having that knot in your stomach from all the build up. This movie delivers that in spades. Even after the climax, we still feel terrified for our protagonist. I can’t say much else without giving too much away, but it’s a true testament to storytelling that this movie was such an engrossing watch.
Roop and Peregrym are also wonderful here. There’s a lot of pressure when there aren’t many supporting characters (Eric Balfour makes a quick appearance as a creepy backpacker that they come across but that’s about it). This movie is as much about being lost in the woods and stalked by a bear as it is about the dynamics of a relationship under pressure. The stress of the situation immediately drives a huge wedge between these two and we see them trying to repair that divide as the film goes on. It’s very well written and performed.
Overall, this really isn’t one to miss. The acting is on point, the writing is well done and the tension is nearly unbearable (pun intended). Give it a watch and let me know what you think! It’s our Friday Night Movie Pick.
Director: Adam MacDonald
Writer: Adam MacDonald
Stars: Missy Peregrym, Eric Balfour, Nicholas Campbell