Wilderness is an effective and brutal thriller/horror movie. The premise is straight forward- a group of juvenile offenders and their keeper out on a camping trip are picked off one by one by a mysterious and ruthless killer with a crossbow a pack of attack dogs and a skill for booby traps. It is brutal, violent, fast moving and visceral. It is quite well made- the tension and pace never drops, which is essential for this kind of movie and there is a gritty, unremitting feel to the movie which works in its favour. The deaths are unpleasant and violent and the characters aren't likable keeping it somewhat unpredictable as to what is going to happen, who is going to die and so on. Wilderness doesn't hold back in terms of the violence and nastiness but still keeps, for the most part a gritty realistic vibe and it works. The movie shows you don't necessarily need likable characters but only believable ones to make a movie work. The more likable characters are only more likable by comparison i.e. they are only cowardly or selfish as opposed to being sadistic and cruel. The one character that seems like they may actually be competent and a decent human being is out of the picture comparatively early on. This comes across as lot more credible than those movies which contain groups of supposedly hardened criminals or delinquents who prove to be suitably heroic and noble and band together when it comes to the crunch. The characters here aren't over the top nasty either- they are full of petty meanness and posturing, selfishness and banality without being irredeemably evil as you would probably expect such kids to be in real life. The acting, mostly by fairly unknown young British actors is pretty good and low key- the Brits are generally better at this sort of thing. This gives the film its grittier edge and helps make it a little bit less predictable than it could be. Okay, the designated hero is obvious from the get-go and it isn't too unexpected when most of the unsavoury cast is wiped out but it isn't cloyingly obvious all the way through that things will happened the way you would predict in accordance with movie conventions. The movie is not without flaws. The plot isn't always particularly believable or fresh. It seems strange that there is on one prison guard with this group of about ten juvenile offenders out on a supposedly deserted island and the killer seems almost too effective is dispatching his prey although to be fair it works for the movie in terms of the scariness of the villain and some explanation is provided for his skill in this regard. Toward the end when the hunter and his motivation is revealed he is far less effective a bad guy, his motivation and presence slightly contrived (Though still plausible) and he suddenly seems to become a lot less competent in order for him to be defeated. It might have been better if the makers had left the killer a mysterious motiveless figure. There are a few times when the movie does seem to go a bit too far with its nastiness, the flip side of the movie slack of restraint. The way in which some of the gorier death scenes, such as the first dog killing, are lingered on is a bit too much and toward the end some of the character's abhorrent behaviour comes across as a bit much also (Okay we already knew these guys were scum, can we get on with it). On the whole a slick, well made and exciting movie which is both helped and hampered, but mostly helped, by it's willingness to be mean spirited and harsh.
Juvenile delinquents are sent to a small British island after a fellow prisoner's death, where they have to fight for survival.
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October 15, 2019