Reviewed by Erik W. Van Der Wolf
Starring Adam Huss, Dayton Knoll, Cassie Self, Kathryn Michelle
Directed by Matt Zettell
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When it comes to cinema’s most influential films, 1972’s Deliverance definitely has to be somewhere in the top ten. And while not technically a “horror” film, the film’s events are indeed horrific and downright terrifying. And just as Jaws made people think twice about swimming in the ocean, you can sure as hell bet that Deliverance has made people think twice about camping and hiking in what we now appropriately refer to as “Deliverance Country”. And, like Jaws, Deliverance inspired (or is it scarred?) a generation of filmmakers and spawned such films as The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Southern Comfort (1981), The Zero Boys (1986), Wrong Turn (2003) (especially when Eliza Dushku goes Burt Reynolds on their inbred asses), and even Hostel (2005). All are direct descendants of John Boorman’s hillbilly terror flick, and it’s in this tradition that Resurrection County obviously hopes to follow. And, I have to say, I believe it succeeds.
Written by newcomer Matt Yeager and James (Demon Slayer) Cotten and directed by Matt (The Cellar Door) Zettell, the pic follows two couples as they venture into the Southern backwoods for a camping trip and end up in the remote, backwards town of Enoch located in Resurrection County. As you would expect, best laid plans go horribly awry as the progressive suburbanite couples run afoul of the locals who don’t take kindly to outsiders, and when cultures clash bad things happen. Really bad things. And while Resurrection County isn’t able to capture the same sense of overwhelming despair and dread as its ancestor (few films can or ever will), Yeager, Cotten, and Zettell manage to create plenty of tension and suspense, which is hard to do in a subgenre that has been well mined over the past thirty-seven years.
Resurrection County is most definitely not a film for the squeamish (this is NOT a date movie!) and is utterly unrelenting in its depiction of the horror and depravity that befall our protagonists, all of which is captured in seat-squirming detail by director Zetell and first-time cinematographer Gregg Hartman.
Performances are strong across the board, and writers Matt Yeager and James Cotten do a wonderful job of making the couples fairly pedestrian and real (I felt like I knew these people), rather than creating character types who are usually so annoying you can’t wait to see them die in the most horrible way possible.
And while the script does follow convention for the most part, there are a few pleasant surprises along that way, which made me wish the writers had tried even harder to break from the established paradigms and do something completely fresh with the genre.
Even still, Resurrection County delivers the goods and those who like their Southern Gothic horror in your face and unwavering in its attempt to make you squirm should be pleased.
And my wife wonders why I don’t like camping…
3 1/2 out of 5
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