A couple’s nature holiday turns into a bloody nightmare in this realistic horror effort that charts the myriad reasons why one should never go camping out of season.
It all begins with Alex and Jenn driving to the woods. They are a happy young couple. He is a budding construction worker about to open a landscaping business with a friend and she is lawyer. They flirt, listen to the radio, and play car games which gives us a peek into their dynamic. he is ,apparently, the fun one while she is all about that nine to five.
Arriving at their destination they learn that his favorite trail has been closed for the short remainder of the season. He also turns down a free map which leaves Jenn somewhat surprised. Alex camped the area a lot in his youth and is pretty sure he doesn’t need a bunch of squiggly lines to tell him what’s what! This is the equivalent to that haunted house movie moment where the husband brags that they are saving so much money that he’s grateful a massacre took out the last tenants.
Alex is a bit of a jerk about his camping experience. He goes on and on about how he can light a fire without matches and is quick to snicker at Jenn for packing a road flare and bear repellent. He also blows her off when it is time to gather firewood so it is really his fault that he returns to find her talking to a hunky backpacker, named Brad.
Alex gets a little wiggy when he sees that Jenn invited Brad to dinner. Luckily the dude caught a lot of fish but Alex is grateful he doesn’t overstay his welcome. There is a little Alpha male posturing but it never gets physical.
The trip starts to go wrong immediately with Alex taking them off the trail and promptly getting them lost. Turns out the lake isn’t where he remembered it. He also misses some obvious bear signs and chalks up losing food to raccoons but we know better .
It isn’t long before an enormous black bear wanders into their camp and he’s hungry. Usually he can count on Doritos from the tourists but these guys are out of chow so they become his next favorite food. A nasty attack separates the two and Jenn is left injured and running for her life. That said she probably has as good a chance of finding her way back as with her dumb boyfriend so the hunt is on.
This is a solid and realistic” nature” fright flick. It appears to be part of a new horror subculture-the low key docudrama approach to real tragedy. This style was begun in films like ‘Open Water” and “Frozen,” not the musical but the one about three adults left overnight on a ski-lift.
The approach works and you don’t need anyone to tell you this was based on a true story because every moment is plausible. When Jenn runs for her life she is quick to crash into a tree but that’s gonna happen when you keep looking over your shoulder. Which you would do if a bear was chasing you. The animal attack is graphically rendered and will have you shielding your eyes. It is entirely believable that Jenn would take off like a rocket assisted rabbit.
The performers are well cast with Missy Peregrym(Rookie Blue) keeping it real as Jenn. You never catch her acting and it adds to the whole documentary feel. Eric Balfour(the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake) pops up briefly as Brad and is okay but his Irish accent is a little too thick for a guy who grew up in Canada. The bear steals the show and is quite menacing. His best moment is a quiet one that finds the beast sniffing Jenn and Alex’s tent while they slumber ,totally oblivious to his lumbering presence.
Worth a look but not if you plan on taking a hike any time soon.
Best Lines: “That’s just acorns falling. (Thud) Hmm, that didn’t sound like acorns.”
“We’re not gonna see anything larger than a chipmunk.”
Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.