April 9, 2015

VOD Review: Backcountry (2015)

(aka Black Machine.)
Release Date: March 20th, 2015.
Country: Canada.
Rating: NR.
Written by: Adam MacDonald.
Directed by: Adam MacDonald.
Starring: Missy Peregrym, Jeff Roop, Eric Balfour, and Nicholas Campbell.

Last year it was Bigfoot (Willow Creek, Exists), and this year it's killer bears (Red Machine.) No matter which killer beast is terrorizing the fictional forests of the film world though, it's safe to say that the point is "Stay out of the damned woods!"

Unless of course, you want to die. Then by all means, explore the woods.

Cute Canadian couple Alex and Jenn are going camping! Alex is planning on taking his lady love to a special place that he went to once when he was a kid, and he's all gung-ho about it, since he's pretty much a seasoned woodsman and all. She, on the other hand, would rather be on a beach somewhere sipping Mai Tais, because she's clearly not a rube. Sounds like it's going to be a good weekend.

After refusing the offer of a map, and disregarding the warning that the place that they are headed is closed for the season, Alex and Jenn head off to find whatever the hell it is that people set off to find when they go camping. Really though, since Canada is basically one big forest, why would you not take a map with you when you head into the deep reaches of its Backcountry? Even the bears have maps out there.

The first night there, a sexy, Irish wilderness guide happens into camp, and starts making "I want to be in you" eyes at Jenn. Naturally, Alex doesn't like this, and so he and Sexy Irish exchange passive-aggressive words and looks between each other as they eat fish. After dinner, Sexy Irish decides that it's time for him to be on his way, and so everything is fine again... that is until a black bear shows up looking to literally rip someone a new ass!

Will Alex and Jenn survive their ill-advised trip into the Backcountry? Will a black bear make a meal of them both? Will Sexy Irish return to save the day at the last possible minute? Far be it from us to spoil anything for you here, but suffice it to say that this whole mess could have been avoided had Alex and Jenn brought a map with them. Or maybe a shotgun or two.

As much as we liked 2015's other killer bear movie, Red Machine (our review HERE), we liked Backcountry just about as much, if for different reasons. Red Machine was a movie that kept us on the edge of our seats with its action scenes, while Backcountry focused more on atmosphere and a sense of impending doom to drive its point home. In fact, the bear is hardly onscreen in this one.

The whole thing is an exercise in permeating dread and mounting tension, and it's really what we don't see (but know is coming) that had our nerves all in a bundle. Writer/director Adam MacDonald crafted himself a solid genre effort here, and we're excited to see what he does next.

Aside from the blurry bits (see below), we also really love how this movie was shot. In addition to a gorgeous location that made for some compelling visuals, there were several times when Missy Peregrym's character was so far off to the side of the shot, that we were just sure that the bear was going to appear behind her, and it made things all the more intense for us. 

As far as the cast goes, Missy Peregrym made for a believable heroine, and more importantly, her character was really likable. Then again, she's pretty likable in general. And as briefly as he was onscreen, Eric Balfour was equally as likable, if far more menacing. It kinda sucks that his character amounted to tittle more than a red herring of sorts though, but what can you do?  

We also really liked how the movie concluded. It didn't "finish" the way that you'd think a movie like this would, and it was nice to be wrong about what we thought was going to happen next for a change.

The out of focus, blurry, sound-distorted, shaky cam filming that came to the forefront in the latter half of the movie was annoying. We understand that for the most part all of that was meant to visually illustrate disorientation, or convey emotion or something, but this movie was good enough without having to use those sort of parlor tricks.

***SPOILERS*** What an idiot the boyfriend was. 

  • "I Don't need a map, I know this park well." Lies. 
  • "I'll just leave the cellphone in the car. I don't want my girlfriend on Twitter all weekend."
  • "I'd better ridicule my girlfriend for bringing bear spray and a road flare with her, because how stupid is she to think that we'll need those!"
  • "I hurt my foot so bad that my toenail is coming off, but let's keep hiking."
  • "That's a big bear print, I'd better not tell my girlfriend about it or else we won't be able to trek deeper into the dangerous woods."
  • "What are those odd noises in the night? Just acorns. Relax!"
  • "Something broke a tree in our campsite last night? I told you, it was acorns!"
  • "That animal carcass was clearly eviscerated. Probably raccoons."
  • "No we're not lost!" Lies.
  • "I remember the lay of the land from when I was here once back in High School!" Idiot.

This is exactly the kind of asshole that doesn't ever need to go camping. It was obvious from the get-go that his girlfriend was less than thrilled to be camping to begin with, and as things got worse and worse for them, and she became more visibly upset about their situation, it really pissed us off that he was too stupid, stubborn, and selfish to say "Hey baby, let's just go."

The toenail scene, the splint scene, and a few more that I won't spoil; there were some genuinely terrifying moments of violence and injury in this one. We cringed multiple times.

Aside from a brief shot of some man-ass, this one is nudity and sex-free.

Always stay on the main trail, especially if you don't have a map and a compass. Also, camping is for suckers.

We found Backcountry to be an enjoyable man vs. nature flick, that took a refreshingly different approach with its subject matter. While there's some pretty intense action in this one, it's really the way that said action is teased and built up that made it so impactful and effective.

Backcountry is worth every penny of the $6.99 rental cost.


Backcountry is available now on VOD.


We'd go into the Backcountry with Missy Peregrym any day. (We just know that she'd keep us safe from bears with her love.)


  1. Totally agree with your review. Have you noticed the number of films in which the boyfriend proves to have no commonsense and his inexperienced and/or naive girlfriend is forced to get tough or die? The realism of her travails in the second half of the movie made it for me. Jesus, that bear attack on boyfriend! The fine little Irish film, 'From The Dark' has the same theme. As for me, if a gorgeous girl told me the only way I was going to get laid was to go camping with her, I'd only go if I had a gun and a big dog.

  2. I really enjoyed this movie,I do agree with everything you were saying I'm not saying the jackass boyfriend deserved to get eaten by the bear but he totally was a jackass and completely had no regard for his girlfriends life as he continued to lead them deeper into the throws of death but all in all it was a very good suspenseful movie and I'm so glad she made it out without getting ate by the big bear and I told my boyfriend hell no never would we go camping for so many oblivious reason.😊

    1. I camped in Montana as a kid and I am so with you. Camping is for suckers who want to feed the bears (the hard way).