The Hike (2011)
(18) Running time: 83 minutes
Director: Rupert Bryan
Writers: Ben Loyd-Holmes, Rupert Bryan
Starring: Barbara Nedeljakova, Ben Loyd-Holmes, Zara Phythian, Jemma Bolt, Lisa-Marie Long, Shauna McDonald
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
“Yawn” is probably the best way to describe this tame but savage wannabe horror about five girls hiking through the woods. The film cries out to be sat alongside classic like The Descent with a sort of mixture of Hostel, The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn and any other friends in peril in the countryside type of film, and fails badly. The five girls in question, good looking as they are, will irritate you more than anything. They meet up after one of them has left the Forces after seeing her boyfriend killed in action. Everyone carefully chats to her, avoiding any reminders about what happened and it all feels incredibly false. All the awkwardness goes out the window as the fifth girl arrives, late, and in her violent boyfriend’s sports car. The boyfriend, played by Tamer Hassan, has his moment where he shouts and threatens her for only just getting home from a modelling trip and now she’s heading off again. Step in the army girl to give him a wild smack in the face, another to the gut and she puts him down. Yeah man, she’s so tough as she walks away with a look on her face. From this point you know she will be the leader, and more than likely the last one standing.
Let’s get one thing clear before we move on with the story, these girls cannot act for shit, and the fact the script is dreadful adds up to some awful characters. Every word feels fake, forced, it doesn’t flow and nothing anyone says feels like they mean it. Not one character here can actually give a believable performance and it becomes painful to watch. Even when the girls are in serious trouble, it just feels like they are practising for something better, it is embarrassing. How any director could allow this to happen is beyond me. With acting this bad, it is very difficult to get involved in the film, there is a constant barrier of badness, and for me, I just could not get into this film at all. I had high hopes, the opening scene before some impressive credits is well presented and promises a good old backwoods yarn ahead. Sadly, what does follow is the type of stuff that has all been done before, and much better.
The girls head off through the woods in skimpy shorts, boots and tight tops and it is clear they are here for two reasons, eye candy and to die. They tease at a mountain pool where one trips down to her bikini and goes for a swim, you hope the rest will follow but they don’t, and the film is full of moments like this. It teases and never delivers. Even when it turns nasty, it never really pushes you to the edge, never goes to places you haven’t been before and while it desperately wants to shock you, it simply can’t. The girls meet three locals, a giant foreign man with an axe and his two women. Clearly there is something dodgy going on with this group, who seem to be living off the land, but nothing is ever really explored but there is a level of menace from these, and you expect to see them again. They also bump into three lads who are rock climbing, and decide to learn how to climb rocks in a cheesy, pathetic scene of flirting, and later on decide to go and find their camp for fun and maybe some sex. There is a scene where the girls walk past two of the guys naked in the river, the girls join in and a montage of close ups of bikini’s and wet hair follows, but the girls never get naked, and the big question is why were the guys in the river, naked together in the first place?
Anyway, a friend goes missing, the army girl is pushed off a rock and the rest of the girls are hunted, caught and tied up. The film takes a sudden change in direction as this happens, and to be honest I did not see it coming. However, after the initial shock it is back to basics as the girls fight to get free, their captives attempt to hurt them, and we are supposed to be terrified. It doesn’t work. The captives are clearly wanting to rape and kill the girls, but scene after scene attempts to develop a shocking moment and never fulfils anything. There is very little violence, and the threat of rape just becomes tired and over stretched. Even a girl tied up with rope to some trees never really disturbs. I don’t know if it was the poor acting, the bad direction, the fact that nothing has really pushed any boundaries or what, but this is incredibly tame stuff, a torture porn flick for beginners. The captors even try to act psychotic by cooking chilli and talking about the best way to cook it while the girls, tied up, cry in front of them. The scene is laughable. Hell, the captors try to act SO scary they completely ruin it for themselves. Everyone seems to be trying too hard, and actually make themselves look like total amateurs. The film is poor, and fair play to the director for clearly knowing how these films should be made, but it just doesn’t work.
It pains me to talk much more about this, but the ending is predictable, the characters even die in the order you’d expect. The setting is great, the idea is great, but there are far too many flaws and The Hike is not an enjoyable watch. It is a horror, but the true horror comes from how bad this film is.