A park ranger and eight juvenile delinquents run afoul of a not so gentle ‘Ben” in this ‘man vs. nature’ styled horror flick.
It all begins when a serial killer stops to help a correctional officer change a tire. Unfortunately his idea of roadside assistance includes killing the victim after watching him change the tire himself. The killer opts to take the guy’s place and deliver eight young offenders to a nature preserve where they are to help clean up some trails.
The teens turn out to be a motley crew of(mostly upper class) minor leaguers . They are annoying but wouldn’t last a minute on one of those juvenile offender boot camps that used to be featured on daytime shows like “Maury Povich” and “Rikki Lake.”
The kids get a quick lesson in park safety by ranger Bob, who doubles as a straight laced doofus and authority figure for the kids to hate. He actually gives them good advice (like don’t feed the animals) which they promptly ignore. Fate gives them some payback when they are sprayed by a hungry skunk and have to march downwind of Bob.
Meanwhile the serial killer guy decides to stay in the woods and is the first one to see why the park is named after large mammals that like honey (but will settle for the face of a convenient psychopath). The group has no clue as to their danger and proceed to do all of the things one shouldn’t do in a horror film. Splitting up is ,of course, the first thing they do and that proves fatal for the couple that weren’t paying attention to Ranger Bob’s lesson on avoiding wolf traps.
The rest are very happy when Bob opts to search for the missing couple. They immediately begin to break the remaining horror movie rules by engaging in sexual activities, drugs, and even causing false scares by dressing up as a bear. Turns out that bears really hate guys in bear suits and it makes them want to decapitate the unfortunate soul who is dumb enough to don such a costume in Grizzly country. The ensuing kills are quite gory and really liven up the last half hour as the bear goes ape.
This is a fun flick and the first from writer/director Tom Skull. He proves to have a good sense of humor though he will have to work on writing dialog for young adults as most of his characters sound the same which has the effect of rendering all of them as whiny potential bear food. He does a better job with Ranger Bob who comes off as a forthright and moral guy until the final twist reveals a more sinister side. Credit goes to Glenn Morshower for pulling off this character. he is the most experienced actor in the film and will be recognizable to fans of “24” and the “Transformer” flicks.
The film is also quite affordable. I picked it up at the Wal-Mart for five bucks. It is one of four flicks on a single disc and a real bargain. Enjoy this one and look forward to even better things from Mr. Skull.
Best Line: “I am aware that education is lacking in this country but I won’t tolerate bad language.”
Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.