Directed by Michael J. Bassett
Wilderness isn’t going to win any awards for originality, but if you like your survival horror served straight up and gory as hell, then cinch up your rucksack and get ready for a trek up splatter mountain.
The beginning of the film sees us introduced to a young group of criminal offenders serving their time in a high security juvenile hall for various offences including murder, rape, and theft. Skinhead Steve is the ringleader, and backed up by his hulking but sensitive pal Lewis, they terrorize the other inmates, focusing especially on tiny defenseless Davie. The arrival of new inmate Callum coincides with Davie committing suicide and the whole group being sentenced to spend some time on “The Island” as penance for their bullying.
Under the tutelage of prison officer Jed (played by Dog Soldiers’ Sean Pertwee) the inmates are shipped out to a remote island to spend a disciplinary week “roughing it.”
As it turns out, the island is far from empty, and the boys stumble across another group of inmates from the female youth correctional facility as well as a far more dangerous inhabitant known only as “The Hunter.”
The inevitable carnage begins with ubiquitous UK horror victim Pertwee having his hand and face chewed off, his chest cavity plundered by the Hunter’s vicious pack of German shepards. Left without adequate adult supervision, the second act of the film plays out like Friday the 13th/Alien 3 meets Lord of the Flies/Battle Royale with the threat of a character’s violent death being equally probable at the hands of the anonymous killer or one of the other inmates.
The graphic and expertly executed gore effects are the standout aspect of the film, elevating this fairly derivative, if well told, story into a gorehound’s all you can puke buffet. We’re treated to dismemberment, beheadings, torture, and a particularly “sucks to be you” moment involving not one, but two, bear traps. The fact that Wilderness managed to secure a “15 certificate” from the British Board of Film Classification is a real testament to how far we’ve come from the days of the “video nasties.” This sucker is wet!
Opinions about Wilderness will likley fall into two camps: the gorehound crowd that loves the film and the genre snob who only see the movie as a tired 80’s throwback. For a lot of us, Wilderness is exactly the kind of film that got us interested in horror cinema in the first place. If you’ve lost touch with your splatter-loving younger self, then venture out into Wilderness; your inner child is out there somewhere…(likely decapitating a dog… Kids these days!)
3 out of 5
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