This made for TV schlockbuster starts with what I have come to call the segue killing, basically an opening scene where you have two basic stock characters, usually a lone couple, who will run afoul of the killer (or killers) that the actual stars of the film will be hounded by for the duration of the film. It is such a tried and true cliche, and yet nigh every basic slasher and wilderness horror start out with this simple segue killing, and move onward from there. I will give the male from this scene an award for being one of the true dunderheads of schlock cinema. After howling like an idiot to impress (?) his special lady friend a forest ranger walks up to him, and says, “Come with me boy,” and he does.
You know if a strange forest ranger appeared at my remote campsite I think I’d at least ask why he wants me to wonder off in the woods with him while leaving my girlfriend alone. Obviously this guy is quickly killed by the faux forest ranger, and his girlfriend is quickly captured by the inbred mountain folk. Back at the compound full of inbred forest dwellers she is put in a cage, and in short order she is tied up and raped by a giant gorilla of an inbred hick who it turns out is the messiah of this religious cult, but I am getting ahead of myself. It appears she is going to be used as breeding stock for the inbred cultists which will inevitably be ruled by a matriarch, as the writer no doubt thought that immensely clever.
It is at this point I think to myself if you have seen one wilderness schlock film you have truly seen them all, so let me provide you a quick checklist, for the next time you encounter one. I have placed an asterisk next to all those that apply to this little gem.
- Missing poster of couple or group killed in segue killing *
- Creepy inbred kids running around *
- Dead and or mutilated animal remains found in wilderness *
- Taxidermy used as a decorative motif by killer(s)*
- Group of mostly male inbred hicks
- Group is lead by a mostly together matriarch or patriarch (sometimes both) *
- Dumb group of people decided to venture out into the wilderness and get killed *
- Dumb group of people will ignore all warning signs that they should leave wilderness *
- Many POV shots of someone watching the dumb group of victims from the woods *
- Male victims summarily and quickly dispatched
- Female victims submitted to torture, both mental and physical *
- Victims that are killed are turned into meat
Now we have an understanding of what we are in for, as this film nearly had a perfect score on the schlock wilderness horror score card. With the segue couple demonstrating the horrors that lurk in the wilderness we need to quickly encounter the group of dumb victims that are to enter the wilderness unaware. As fate would have it the film cuts to a group of young professionals that the inbred christian cultists will soon be hunting down in the great north woods while they participate in a paintball match/corporate retreat. The group is made up of the typical stock characters that often populate the schlock wilderness. The outsider who goes along with the rest of the group, but truly does not wish to be there though he is pining for one of the hot girls that is part of the group. Five other guys who are pretty much the same, with minor variations- one or two will likely be of a minority race (in this case, black and asian), one will be the “leader,” and another will be a “macho asshole” (sometimes these characters are combined). Usually you take the number of guys and divide by two to get the number of girls that will be present, but this calculation does not always work. In this case we have one less than the normal math would dictate. Regardless of the number of girls they are usually attractive, and this film is no exception to this rule.
The corporate retreat group soon divide up into two teams of four, an Alpha Team and a Bravo Team. More focus is put on the Alpha Team with the leader/manage, Haylie Duff’s character, the loner who pines for her, and the macho asshole. The Bravo Team has the two minorities, the spare guy, and the other girl. This team does not truly matter much in the way of the film as they are simply cannon fodder.
The alpha group ignore all the initial warnings that they encounter while the bravo group become hopelessly lost. The Bravo team spot a dilapidated house in the midst of the wilderness, and they decide to go inside and look for a phone. I was truly thinking they would die quickly, but as it turned out they are simply taken captive. The female gets the worst treatment as she is drugged and then raped by the Mutant Hillbilly Messiah, you see she like that girl from the beginning is a “handmaiden to the lord.”
When alpha team hears over their radio that Bravo team has come to a bad end, it finally it dawns on them that they should likely escape, but by now it is too late.
They grab their paint guns, which is such an utterly dumb thing to do, I mean what are you going to do paint the inbred killers to death.
In short order the Alpha team are also taken captive. It turns out the killers are a group of crazed Christian cultists who live in a natural utopia funded by their underground crystal meth lab, and propagated through inbreeding. If nothing else I give the writer a few points for originality when it comes to this particular twist. The forest ranger from the beginning singles out the loner character, and begins to question him thinking that he is with the FBI, and that his group is a covert special forces team intent on destroying their religious compound. Again this was an almost funny bit, but was not played up enough to be truly funny.
In short order nigh everyone is killed, the crystal meth lab is blown up, and the loner, Haylie Duff’s character, the macho asshole character, and the other girl that was with them make their escape. Of course their escape is a truly epic fail as they end up on the top of a small mountain/giant hill surrounded by inbred christian cultists, what a nightmare.
Rather than live another moment in this film the girl who isn’t Haylie Duff decides to commit suicide to escape, and I can not say I really blame . Loner boy and Haylie Duff’s character continue their lame ass escape, truly a pathetic spectacle, and end up stranded on a cliff surrounded by Christian cultists yet again.
Eventually loner boy and Haylie Duff’s character face off with the remaining christian cultists, and manage somehow to blow them up. The real FBI shows up, and after hearing about the crazy christian cultists decide they better go clean up the forest. Of course the Mutant Hillbilly Messiah whom we thought was dead is still very much alive, and the film ends with him killing the FBI squad. Schlock films almost always leave an opening for a sequel, that rarely if ever comes.
My Favorite Schlock Moments:
Mutant Hillbilly Messiah Foreplay Action
Loner boy: I hope a skunk gives you crabs.
Macho Asshole: It wouldn’t be the first time.
We have corporate yuppie paint ball action, death by paint ball gun, booby traps, taxidermy, inbred hillbilly Christian cultists, a government hating inbred forest ranger, hillbilly Mutant Messiah mating action, death by asthma attack, crystal meth funded Christian cult utopia, meth lab explosions, horribly botched escape attempts, epic showdown action, and doomed FBI agents.
All in all I would give this film two stars, it tried in its own way to be entertaining, and even though it mostly failed it still gave me a few solid guffaws.