For the first fifteen minutes Backwoods is fantastic. It’s paced perfectly, eerie, intriguing and all wrapped within a sense of jeopardy. So there I am thinking ‘wow, this is going to be fun’; then it cuts to two guys talking beer and women. Suddenly all the life is sucked from the film and Backwoods spends the rest of its runtime trying desperately to claw back its momentum.
It’s shame because Backwoods does have a few things going for it. The story is familiar, but has enough about it to still be interesting. The script has a few dud moments, but overall isn’t too bad. Plus Kris Skoda’s cinematography is superbly dark and creates a menacing atmosphere. There are also some nice uses of sound; the crackling radio sermons will make even the most hardened horror fan feel uneasy.
There are a couple of really good performances from the two leads. Isabella Alberti plays the horror movie virgin role with a strength that underpins her character. Michael Anthony Bagozzi does a great job with Noah’s journey from friend-zoned nerd, to something else entirely.
The mid-credits sequence is the point where Backwoods finally gets in mojo back. Unfortunately it’s also frustrating, as I felt ‘why couldn’t the rest of the film been like this and the first fifteen minutes’.
In no way a terrible film, Backwoods just feels like a missed opportunity. All the elements are there, but for a large chunk of the film they just don’t come together.
Marks out of 10: 6