The Backwoods (2006)
Studio: Lions Gate
DVD Release Date: April 15, 2008
Directed By: Koldo Serra
Cast: Gary Oldman, Paddy Considine, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Virginie Ledoyen
Brutal As Hell Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Review By: Marc Patterson
A group of friends heads to a remote cottage in the Spanish countryside for a weekend of leisure. When Paul (Gary Oldman) and Norman (Paddy Considine) are out hunting they find what appears to be an abandoned house, but discover a small girl who has been locked inside, fed from dog bowls, and clearly mistreated. They take the girl with them and intend to contact the local police, but in their efforts are intercepted by locals who are now looking for the missing girl. These local boys don’t want outsiders messing in their affairs and will ill intent the drama rises to a boiling point.
A quiet and tense piece, Backwoods ultimately took an engaging premise without managing to actually deliver. Unlike so many other films that try, but fail, to connect with the audience in order to breed a level of suspense that makes your stomach churn Backwoods actually had it. All of the elements for this to break wide open into a white knuckled nail biter were present, but unfortunately ignored.
The film sports a seasoned and experienced cast of capable actors and actresses. They’ve been placed into a situation where they are out of their element, isolated, confronting language barriers, and plenty of the unknown. This beautiful set up was pissed upon and wasted while we end up watching the main characters wander around through the woods, until we arrive at an anti-climatic ending, which served only to put the final nail in a coffin that was being slowly lowered into the pits of soon to be forgotten horror films.
On a positive note, the sound effects and sound tracking was notably well done and remained appropriately minimalist, giving one the eerie feeling that they were in the woods with the cast, rather than a voyeur along for an entertaining ride. However, all this is not enough to save this film from its regrettable demise.
The DVD packaging is as equally a disappointment as the film and features no extras beyond a few trailers. The simple bottom line? Our official recommendation is to pass this film by.