By the time one of the terrorized characters in the hillbilly horror movie Backwoods becomes desperate and suicidal, most audiences will be way ahead of her. Unfortunately we don't share her fear; only her hopelessness.
Even as the completely unoriginal opening credits sequence — White Zombie wannabe band music over a "True Blood" titles rip-off — I kind of knew which road Backwoods would be taking (let's put it this way: not the one less traveled).
At the start, a pair of random lovebirds necking in the wrong woods run afoul of the local yokels. He's brutally killed, and she is taken home to "Mother" (a dowdied down Deborah Van Valkenburgh, whom you might remember from the far superior The Devil's Rejects). Mother approves of her new surrogate daughter, and promptly chains the writhing babe to a pristine canopy bed which is notable for its incongruity to the otherwise squalid homestead.
Mother's boys — a vulgar, filthy, toothless troupe — soon clash with eight yuppies out in the wilds on a paid company retreat to learn about executive politics ("Oh, paintball!" exclaims one, when told of the planned weekend getaway). As the incredibly slow, tedious plot plods on in this made-for-Spike TV movie, it's hard to pay attention… but I did notice a preponderance of dead animals (steaming, and stuffed), histrionic acting (thanks, Haylie Duff), and lazy booby traps (the pallet of sharpened sticks… again?).
Aside from the reasonably charismatic Van Valkenburgh, I cannot remember what anyone in the movie looked like. But they were all obnoxious, uninteresting stock characters. The DP's composition was quite cool in many instances, but his efforts were undercut by poor, flat lighting and too many trippy smash cuts and step zooms. Especially in the beginning — before the real mayhem is unleashed and the doomed dupes are simply hiking, swimming and joshing around — there are far too may M-TV style quick edits which try to create a sense of excitement instead of somebody actually creating the excitement. Then there's the obligatory musical montage done in slo-mo… oh, no.
If you're a fan of inbred mayhem and you've seen everything from the good, the bad, to the ugly in this genre (Deliverance, The Hills Have Eyes, Hunter's Blood, Wrong Turn, Simon Says), then you will definitely want to stay on the main roads… and don't listen to Mother.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson