‘Backwoods’ – 2008
Directed by: Marty Weiss
Written by: Anthony Jaswinski
Starring: Haylie Duff, Ryan Merriman, Danny Nucci
Runtime: 84 minutes
There’s probably six million and eight versions of the “people get stuck in the woods and get attacked by a bunch of crazies”. At this point it’s pretty much old hat. There’s even an increasingly number of “corporate people get stuck in the woods and get attacked by a bunch of crazies”. So, why does Backwoods deserve my attention? Short answer; it doesn’t. But then again, this blog is dedicated to talking about some of the most amazing crap ever put to film so here we go:
Backwoods starts out pretty much like every other horror movie. Just so we know that there is Danger In The Woods we have a camping couple. They’re fooling around, having a generally good time when they’re attacked. The guy is killed pretty much immediately bloodlessly yet over-the-toply. The girl treats us to the worst acting job known to man as she’s kidnapped and we get an abrupt fade to her in a cage. A second later she’s strapped to a bed and getting ready for what appears to be some sort of ritualistic rape.
But, of course, this is not the story we are here to hear. No one cares about this couple; really, they’re only there so that our protagonists can see their pictures on a missing sign and furrow their brows later. So, we cut to downtown Los Angeles for a five second establishment scene telling us that a group of young, hot professionals are going into the woods for their corporate paintball retreat. Once they get there, of course they ask around for a spot that’s “really out of the way”. They include a couple of straight laced business types, Hilary Duff’s less famous sister, a guy who looks like he should be a member of a black ops military team, a girl who pretty much shrieks the whole time, Phil from Better Off Ted, and a guy who actually uses the phrase “I’ll put a boot right up your ass”. They are really into their paintball thing. Except the girls, and Phil, cause they are wimps. When strange stuff starts happening though it only makes sense that it’s the opposing team messing around with them. Of course.
Pretty soon they find an old creepy looking house in the middle of the woods and decide it would be an awesome idea to beak in and take a peek around. Cause crazy people couldn’t possibly live there. And normal people break into stranger’s houses all the time. I won’t tell you, but you can probably guess what happens there.
The back of the DVD case gives this description: “But when the woods reveal a hidden band of savage survivalists”. It’s all true. At one point the sentient woods pull back their leaves to reveal a grinning mountain man. Okay, okay, I’m just kidding, this isn’t The Evil Dead. But, a bunch of wilderness dwelling, crazy religious ‘survivalists’, who are convinced the FBI are trying to talk their land and kill them all off using chemical warfare are indeed living in the woods. Why? Because the FBI is after them, obviously. The FBI attacks random hillbillies with Agent Orange all the time, duh. (And seriously at one point one of them is convinced a paintball is either Agent Orange or anthrax. Come on, these toothless delights aren’t chemists or anything.) They are presumably hell bent on the propagation of their… species, too. This makes the girls useful, but the dudes are just kept in cages for awhile instead of killed immediately. I mean… it has to last at least eighty five minutes somehow.
Really, I could just tell you exactly what happens because you’ve probably seen this plot so many times already. Or, actually, you could tell me. And I am assuming here that you haven’t seen it. But just because something has been seen before doesn’t necessarily make it bad. There are plenty of other things that make this movie bad.
Firstly, the overly loud metal music is obnoxiously oppressive, and doesn’t fit with the setting or story. Except when we see footage of the locals, then we get a banjo twinge in a second rate rip off of Deliverance. Ever notice how people in horror movies are always creeped out by the wrong people just cause they live in the middle of nowhere and have animal heads mounted on their walls? As my friend Kurtz would say “The horror… the horror..”
It’s complete with cliché in-tent romps. Now, I’ve never gotten busy on a camping trip, and I am certainly not ruling out the idea, but it doesn’t seem like it the most comfortable. Especially not with a co-worker. And especially not with the rest of my co-workers five feet away.
I’ll admit, though, there is nothing funnier than men on fire in bad movies. I don’t mean realistically, of course, actually it makes me fairly nauseous when people are maliciously set on fire in any sort of film. However, so many times they have characters pretty much spontaneously burst into flames all over their bodies while they flail about silently. It’s extraordinarily fake looking. And it is hilarious.
And to round it out; I’m not gonna give anything away, but there is one of those completely un-clichéd scenes where something explodes and the protagonist keeps walking away without looking behind him.
In all seriousness now; Backwoods isn’t horrible. It’s by no means original, scary, well acted, or well written but I wasn’t bored. I was on board most the time, and the religious zealot ‘mother’ could have been a pretty decent character in a movie with a tighter script. With a movie like this you get exactly what you think you’re getting, no more, no less, and Backwoods delivered the goods. It’s like opening a Milky Way bar, it’s not your favorite and sometimes you wonder if it’s even worth the calories, but you eat it anyway and for a few minutes, at least, it satisfies your sweet tooth.