Tuesday, 9 June 2009

No. 153 : Wilderness



Here’s a familiar film even if you haven’t seen it before. ‘Wilderness’ is a decent enough effort but the list of films like it are is as long as your arm. Basically what you get is a group of people trapped in the woods who are gradually whittled down by a mystery assailant. Let’s see ‘Severance’, ‘Dog Soldiers’, ‘Southern Comfort’, ‘Wild Country’ - the list is potentially endless. Clearly the format is a winner what with it being cheap and an easy narrative along the lines of ‘10 Little Indians. That’s not to say that you won’t enjoy the film, just don’t expect anything new or innovative, apart from a couple of neat killings.

We open in a young offenders institution where a new lad, who’s obviously going to be the hero, is having his first day. They stay in a dormitory and two wimpy boys are bullied by some of the others. After one pee soaking too many, one kills himself much to the umbrage of the governor who sends them away to an island as punishment. The island is supposed to be uninhabited but it’s positively teeming with people including four girls from another institution who had double booked the place and an old tramp who turns up dead with bite marks after running afoul of two of the inmates.

Things take a predictable turn when prison warder Sean Pertwee makes his customary early exit due to some crossbow arrows and for being some Alsatians’ dinner. With the two groups now united they have to join forces to try and survive in the wilderness. Soon they start dropping like flies and they deduce that the mystery killer is the dad of the boy who killed himself, who happens to be ex-special forces and pretty good with a crossbow, man traps and dog training.

With the inmates starting to account for each other as well as falling into traps it’s soon time to take bets on who will survive and escape the island. It’s who you’d expect, really.

Despite a glaring lack of originality I quite enjoyed this film. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and there are several laugh out loud moments as well as a few ‘eeewwws’. The best one for me was the man’s ingenious way of extricating himself from a man trap when the dogs were sighted - that’s gotta hurt!

There is not a lot in the way of characterisation and most of the borstal boy stereotypes are present and correct. There is one wrong foot near the end but if you don’t see that coming you must have a bag over your head. The death effects are largely good with Sean Pertwee suffering a graphic fate that goes on a bit long even for there desensitised eyes.

The ‘mystery’ element is discarded right away with an early suggestion on a monster attack quickly jettisoned for a straightforward survival thriller. That was probably a good choice, although I wonder if it was done late in the day due to budget concerns as the set up of ‘a disused military base’ was signposted strongly quite early on. As it was, it was your standard hunt ‘em down fare and although it was nothing new there is a certain comfort in a run of the mill killing off young people gore fest.

Best Bit : Sean’s Pedigree Chums
‘W’ Rating 15/23

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