Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Scream Factory - BACKCOUNTRY on Blu-ray ""

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Scream Factory - BACKCOUNTRY on Blu-ray

BACKCOUNTRY (2015, Adam MacDonald)
It is no secret that I am a gigantic fan of the "animals attack" genre. From Hitchcock's killer birds to JAWS to the giant rats in DEADLY EYES, it is a scenario that I enjoy thoroughly. Something about the man vs. nature setup is just very appealing. Animal killers are of course not your typical villains. We can look at them as villains, but there are just wild animals doing their wild animal thing. There's this inherent edge to that dynamic that helps make animals attack movies very engaging (at least for me) on a very primal level. I've always found that good movies are only as good as their bad guy, so to have a bad guy that isn't truly evil but rather just a hunter looking for food gives a very different twist and honestly makes things more suspenseful in a lot of ways. And director Adam MacDonald's choice to make a Black Bear the  "villain" of this movie is an interesting one, especially because the grizzly bear is most often depicted as the monster in films.
Of course there have been other killer bear movies like GRIZZLY, CLAWS, DAY OF THE ANIMALS, PROPHECY and even THE EDGE, but none of them feel quite like BACKCOUNTRY. Only the recent INTO THE GRIZZLY MAZE compares a little, but even that feels very heightened. BACKCOUNTRY is (as the film mentions early) based on true events. In 2005 a couple camping in the provincial park in Norther Ontario ran afoul of a black bear with disastrous results. While the filmmakers have of course taken some dramatic liberties with the actual story, BACKCOUNTRY is nonetheless very well made and intense. I won't give away what really happened (it's easily google-able), but suffice it to say that I think they made some good choices in terms of shifting some things around to come up with the most powerful and affecting way to tell the tale. Writer/Director Adam MacDonald thought of it as akin to something more like "OPEN WATER in the woods" and that is a fitting description. It's got a nice slow build and at least a few character elements that make you think the film might go a certain way and it doesn't. MacDonald used two real black bears in the making of the movie and that certainly makes it even scarier. What's really effective about it is the whole "what would I have done?" question you are forced to ask yourself when you watch the film. We've all heard techniques you are supposed to use if you encounter a bear in the wild. Holding perfectly still or playing dead are often mentioned as ways to not present yourself as a threat to a bear who is on the defensive. Sometimes loud noise is a possible option to spook the bear. But sometimes there are bears that are just plain predatory and not playing protector. In the case of a predatory bear, you may be in trouble. They are often very hungry and intend on making you dinner and are much more difficult to discourage. BACKCOUNTRY deals with just such a bear. Not a Grizzly, but a Black Bear as I mentioned. Though black bears are often considered the least deadly of bears in terms of fatal attacks, the statistics show that they are basically neck and neck with grizzlies as far as killings go (at least since about 2000 - both species have taken about twenty-two lives). This movie was clearly effective in that it not only had me completely on edge whilst watching it, but it inspired me to not only look up the true events afterward, but also do some research on how to possibly fend off an attacking predatory bear. Mostly though, it made me not want to go camping anytime soon so I'd call that check in the plus column. This movie is out now on Blu-ray through Scream Factory via their IFC Midnight Imprint. It is a movie that could easily be overlooked but should absolutely be checked out for fans of the genre and horror fans in general. It is some very harrowing stuff. Special features include an Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Adam MacDonald And Actors Missy Peregrym And Jeff Roop and a Behind the Scenes Featurette.

BACKCOUNTRY can be purchased on Blu-ray here:

Bonus: How To Survive a Black Bear Attack:


David Sal said...

How is Into the Grizzly Maze?

Rupert Pupkin said...

It's pretty good, though I think I preferred BACKCOUNTRY.