UK DVD and VOD release TBC
Alone and afraid in the wilderness, a panic stricken woman and an unconscious young girl run from malevolent forces. You know the kind, the sort that make spooky chanting sounds but are always invisible to keep the budget down. The voices proceed to demand a blood sacrifice, what a shocker. I’ve always thought the typical autumn forest setting offers all kinds of possibilities for a no frills production like this; but I guess it’s not a big surprise that the same old choices are utilised. There’s little in the way of creativity even though the makers seem a bit sure of themselves – after the prologue and credits the main characters meet up in an apartment in which the poster for the movie itself is prominently displayed. Avant garde forth wall break or weird vanity choice? I’m not going to be positive about many of the decisions on show here.
After all the overly loud music and horror voice effects we get to meet our band of characters, who are getting together for a school reunion-come-hiking trip. While the Evil Dead influences are obvious the other main source of inspiration seems to be a far better all girls trip gone wrong, The Descent. Unsettling drama and interesting characterisation are not going to be included here I’m afraid. Instead we are treated to a truly abominable level of acting skill and a script almost exclusively made from banal dialogue, small talk and complaining. Their dull backstories and high-school grudges are hardly compelling stuff. One smokes, one used to be fat, one wasn’t invited, that’s about has deep as things go here.
Within the woods they try out a total of one group bonding exercise before taking the mystery trail at the insistence of Daniela (Katie Carpenter) despite the lack of planning or hiking paths. It’s of course here that things go wrong, as despite all the walking they do the trees all start to look the same and it seems as though sinister forces are making them go in circles. Walking, sitting, complaining; it’s a white knuckle ride. Eventually they come across an abandoned shack but little of interest happens here and it’s more of a night time stop over than a set piece showcase. As things unravel there are some attempts to include elements of an actual horror story, but when these come along things start to get even worse.
You’d be forgiven for expecting horrific camping accidents or harrowing haunted shacks in a film of this nature. But they don’t seem entirely focused on either the supernatural or the gritty horror of being lost without food or water. A vague curse plot is thrown around without much explanation and it’s mostly nonsensical, despite one of the characters reading a pamphlet about it at an earlier rest stop. Is the land cursed because of pollution? Who wrote this again? It’s not clear. The survivalist nightmare isn’t particularly edge of your seat stuff either, so nobody wins. Well except those who want a few laughs at what is included here.
Gem (Gema Calero) is the accident prone member of the group, if that counts as a defining feature. After stopping for a bathroom break and wiping herself with poison ivy (really) she gets a bit of a rash, but things get worse when she bathes her hand in a stream which gives her frostbite (really). After ten seconds of what must be cold, but still liquid temperature water, she starts to lose feeling in the hand and her fingers become black and dead. Is the water cursed? Drinking it doesn’t hurt anyone. It’s kind of hilarious and the effect is amplified when she exclaims ‘who’s gonna date me now I don’t have fingers!‘. It’s a magic moment. Elsewhere the hikers have their expedition impeded by minor trips that cause immediate impalement by tree branches …somehow… and later evil spirits summon leaves to bury them. Evil leaves…
Eye popping horror deaths these are not. It’s a welcome break from the in-fighting and school playground regrets at least. Eventually the cursed land thing builds to an ill conceived finale with a silly plot twist, but it’s hardly a show stopping third act. All the familiar ingredients are here but nothing is executed properly and they never give enough focus to the horror or the lore involved. Most of the time it’s just bad without an ounce of charm, something which helps the lowliest independent film tread water. For the brief running time it really drags and too much of it is spent with unsympathetic characters who wander in circles in between their angst breaks and take too long to die. Ultimately it’s all just another poor imitation that lacks the complexity or the pure splatter power of it’s predecessors, so this is one to avoid.