Jena and Alex are on a camping trip in the Canadian forest. They are trying to reach a picturesque place with a waterfall, but get lost on the way. It is not long before a bloodthirsty bear starts tracking them.
The best thing about BACKCOUNTRY is how real it feels. The characters are easy to identify with, the dialogue effortless and the feel of isolation is authentic. Jena and Alex look exactly like someone we know. Jena is a successful beauty, and Alex is not the sharpest pencil in the crate, however he always tries to steal the lime light. Jena tries to stay out of his way, letting his star shine, but when things get troublesome she looses it, and what comes out of her during the argument is truthful, but ugly. Alex and Jena both crack under pressure, but which one of them is really fit to fight the battle of survival?
BACKCOUNTRY is great on building suspense, but it does not shy away from gore. The violence comes shockingly unexpected. It lasts only a few minutes, but it is enough to fuel the adrenalin for the rest of the film.
Another favourable feature in BACKCOUNTRY is its soundtrack. Striking and focused, it gives just enough taste of things to come. It is not present enough through the film, in my opinion, but I understand the choice of filling the visuals with the natural sounds of the forest instead.
The film is great in building the atmosphere, creating a conflict (here is one’s relationship funeral bells on display) and some great performances. Eric Balfour is a menacing stranger, adding tension that the killer bear could not provide early on and Missy Peregrym is a believable survivor girl. Her determination to overcome whatever the life throws at her thinckens the air around her heroin, and even the bear, her nemesis in the movie, seems to feel it.
BACKCOUNTRY is not a perfect film by any means. Its got continuity problems and is very slow. It delivers on its premise, however, and one of the better creature films you’ve seen. It is a little thriller with a huge impact, that examines a crumbling relationship under distress and realistic assessment to the human will for survival.