Saturday, July 25, 2009

Jay's Review: Backwoods

Number two in my reviews for, I bring you the one and only crap fest par excellence... Backwoods!


Official Synopsis:

When a gaming engineer (Haylie Duff, Napoleon Dynamite) is asked by her boss (Craig Zimmerman, My Father) to join a company paintball battle in the remote wilderness, she eagerly accepts. But when the woods reveal a hidden band of savage survivalists, the city folks must come to terms with their own brutal killer instincts – or suffer an unthinkable fate. Venture into the Backwoods - and you may never come out again.

Our Take:

Well, someone really likes Rob Zombie. From the main credits on, showy, choppy, jump-cut editing and film-speed manipulation trumps content. This story is a weird mix of jagged pieces of “Severance,” “Deliverance,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Wrong Turn,” and a dash of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” set decoration. The parts don’t add up to much of a sum, though.

Eight undistinguished, interchangeable computer programmers -who’ll later turn out to all be crack shots with real guns- head out for a corporate-team-building “Executive Tactics” paint ball weekend. In northern California they choose to wind up off the beaten path and deep into weird-hill people-movie-land, encountering… well, I’m not sure what. When you see the blank and drooling bartender at the mythical “backwoods-hill-people’s General Store” (complete with rusty gas pumps and trophy animal heads everywhere) that they eagerly decide to take directions from, you’ll stop caring if any of them survive the weekend.

That’s not true, actually, as you stop caring in the office scene where they’re first introduced…

The villains of the piece seem a mix of:

-Weird hill people (we know this because they have cleft lips and/or drool blankly)

-Survivalists (lead by R. Lee Ermey from “Texas Chainsaw”… I mean, Mark Rolston as “Ranger Ricks)

-and a religious breeder cult who’s prophet is Deborah Van Valkenburg, made-up and lit badly to look horrible, yet not bothering to disguise her measured and cultured tones by acting “Crazy” enough.

They live in a seized government bunker of some kind out in the woods that’s fronted by a run down house that’s been under-art-directed to look neglected. The whole bunker and house aesthetic looks like the film’s makers liked “Saw,” “The Devil’s Rejects” and the “Texas Chainsaw” remake and thought “lets make it look like that, but cleaner, tidier, and not as sweaty.”

Evidently they also make crank to fund their “inbred hill-giant goliath” (played by a man nicknamed “Bonecrusher”) breeding program. I’m sure that made sense to someone with a better grasp of the meandering than I have.

Well, these experienced survivalists mistake a bunch of loud, sloppy, soft city dwellers who use air-horns to get each other’s attention and video-conference one another in the woods to be the FBI based on one guy’s ball cap (!) and it all spirals out from there.

The movie doesn’t know what it wants to be, but I counted 6 “annoying creepy camera run-bys,” a body count of 25, and not nearly enough explosions.

There’s not much more to say about the rest of the cast of vaguely recognizable actors except the lead is Haylie Duff. I’m sure she’s a lovely person and I’d be awestruck with her charms if I met her…

Special Features:

Nearly none. The trailers start when you load the disc, but you can’t access them, or anything beyond “play” and “scene selection” from the menu. No audio or subtitle options either. All in all, pretty bare bones. The menu however shows a series of grimy clips that make this flick look like some sort of potential grindhouse classic…

The trailers are for:

-“Sea Beast” with Corin Nemec

-“The Color of Magic” from the “Discworld” novels, with Sean Astin and Tim Curry

-“Infected” something very X-files-looking with Isabella Rossellini and Judd Nelson

-“The Last Templar” a mini-series adapted from a “Di Vinci Code” rip-off novel starring Mira Sorvino

The packaging includes a cardboard slipcase that makes it look like Haylie Duff is caged in a big wooden box. Classy.

This film is rated R and 84 minutes long.


The packaging and menu’s video clips may make “Backwoods” look like some trashy grindhouse classic, but the actual product is a mash-up of different ideas that don’t mesh. I admire their moxy in slapping it all together, but there’s not much here that gels.

Big body count but fairly bloodless all told. No nudity. No swearing that registered with me. As I understand this has run on Spike TV, and if it’s on and you can’t reach the clicker you may as well let it run. It’s a disposable survivalist tale, but it’s target audience is only going to walk away saying “That needed more breasts and explosions.”

I say “Meh”

Overall Picture:

Movie: C-/D+

Extras: D

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