“Don’t go down to the woods today” the tagline may make Wilderness sound like the lost child of ‘The Blair Witch Project’ but in reality it’s something much, much better. When a bunch of youth offenders find one of their bunkmates has commited suicide they’re shipped off to ‘The Island’ to get back to nature and to work on becoming upstanding members of society. Sadly for the prisoners it seems bonding isn’t so easy when you constantly find yourself under attack from savage dogs and a mysterious assailant with a crossbow.
It’s a nice set up and one which immediately draws unfair comparisons with one of the saints of British Horror; Dog Soldiers. The difference here is that not only do our squad of inmates have to fight their way back to safety, they also have to survive each other, and with drug dealers, sex offenders and murders in the bunch you can tell things are going to get nasty.
And nasty is certainly one thing they get. After a short set up of around 30 minutes (just enough time to tell who hates who) carnage ensues and doesn’t let up until the credits roll. Where most horror movies rely on moments of serene quiet and blistering terror Wilderness is a constant attack on the senses. One minute the prisoners will be running away from dogs and as soon as they get to safety they’ll be at each others throats, only to be interrupted by (you guessed it) more dogs.
The group of prisoners is remarkably well played will villains who you’ll want to die from the second they step on the screen, to misunderstood felons who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. There’s also a camp of women’s prisoners who get dragged along and this further creates some well played out character dynamics. Sexual tension amongst psychopathic killers? You can tell this is going to get bloody!
Much like Battle Royale the island is as much a part of the character as the cast and crew and helps to create the sense of fear that no one is going to escape in one piece. This atmosphere of dread is further enhanced by some fantastic music which makes even the most serene scenes have something of an mysterious edge.
Last but not least the death scenes are fantastic and for the most part unexpected. Whether it be death by dog, crossbow or trap you get the feeling that there’s a real danger in the woods. Want to watch something with a little bite this Halloween? Then step in to the wilderness…
Wilderness is available to pre order here and will be released on October 23rd 2006. Or if you can’t wait that long you can rent it right now.