Quarries (2017) Review
Female-empowerment in the back woods features terrific performances.
Quarries is a 2017 thriller about a group of women who take to the woods for a survival expedition, though it is not nature but something much more terrifying they must fend against.
As women continue to redefine their roles in film, many are taking genres and upturning expectations, reshaping perceptions about women while still embracing what it means to be female. With Quarries, a quasi-horror thriller, it puts women in many easily identifiable and familiar parts that seem destined to be stuck in ruts of the well-worn, and yet, despite a few stereotypes, there is much that defies the clichés and helps to move both the genre and the movement forward, even as the movie itself doesn’t deliver as well as it could and hardens a different stereotype altogether.
Starting with a chilling setup that establishes immediately the dangers that lie ahead, the film picks up with a group of seven women, each with personal stories of hardships, who don heavy packs and head into the deep forests, one that is already rerouted because of volcanic activity that pushes ash into the area. Of these hikers, the story focuses on Kat (Nicole Marie Johnson), a young woman just out of an abusive relationship, her face still baring the scars. As the women bond, they come to face off against a band of savage mountain men who are on the hunt.
Directed by Nils Taylor, who cowrote the script with Johnson, Quarries is a film of layers that tries to make metaphors out of the two parties, attempting to draw parallels between Kat’s recovery and lingering haunts of her recent past and behaviors with the relentless terrain and more so, the brutal men tracking and attacking them. Where Taylor and Johnson serve the story best is with the characters, allowing them, in the movie’s short runtime to develop some depth, making the eventual need to work together more believable.
Strong women are not necessarily a lost commodity in these kinds of film. In fact they are an integral part of the process and reason for their longevity. The ‘final girl’ trope is a mainstay of the genre, so having powerful women here isn’t so much new as it is a tradition. What Quarries does to some degree of success is to keep these women less about the clichés that have come to define women-in-jeopardy films and rightfully add them to a growing collective of movies that populate themselves with smart and resourceful females.
That might not be said about the men, which is perhaps a purposeful choice, and sees very little effort in giving any of them more than a superficial sheen of menace, their motivations never clear. They are but a gathering of broadly-drawn backwoods Hillbilly types with a Bible-quoting leader who holds domain over a predictable lot of goons, including a demented figure who runs around on all fours, chained like rabid dog that somehow is still able to move faster than those on two legs.
Quarries is more psychological than it is horror, with very few moments of actual on-screen violence. While it runs a predictable path, it is at least entertaining, and if one overlooks the contrivances and sees them as representative of Kat’s laboring to overcome her own personal demons, it has some larger value. Better than the low budget would suggest, Quarries packs solid frights with good performances to deliver a compelling little thriller worth a look.
Quarries (2017) Review
Movie description: Quarries is a 2017 thriller about a group of women who take to the woods for a survival expedition, though it is not nature but something much more terrifying they must fend against
Director(s): Nils Taylor
Actor(s): Nicole Marie Johnson, Carrie Finklea, Leisha Hailey
Genre: Horror, Thriller