‘Loop Track’ Review: A Paranoid and Unpredictable Horror Thriller

Loop Track

Loop Track is a film that is best gone into cold. But, what I can safely tell you is that the film is steeped in paranoia and delivers unexpected bouts of dark comedy that had me in stitches a couple of times. 

The film follows Ian (Thomas Sainsbury, doing triple duty as writer, director, and star), who is chronically anxious and has zero hiking experience. Despite that, he shows up at a New Zealand national park and prepares to set off on a miles-long loop track. After much protesting, he reluctantly joins a group of fellow travelers and continues his journey as part of a pack. Throughout the ordeal, Ian becomes increasingly more paranoid, convinced that someone (or something) is following their party and that disaster is surely imminent. 

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Loop Track serves up an immediate sense of unease with Ian as the central focus. He is visibly unsettled from the first frame and seemingly afraid of his own shadow. He believes everyone he comes into contact with is a threat, regardless of how unimposing they appear. As such, we are given cause to wonder if Ian is simply wound too tight and prone to ‘crying wolf’ or if he actually has valid cause to suspect something is amiss. The lack of context regarding what’s really happening makes the viewing experience quite unpredictable. 

Ian’s paranoia proves to be a smart narrative device. In addition to fostering a sense of unease and keeping the viewer in a state of uncertainty, it gives the audience ample cause to question if there’s actually anything out of the ordinary happening. That makes one’s inaugural viewing something of an unpredictable guessing game. 

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Unforeseen narrative developments aside, I was pleased with the onscreen dynamic among the cast. Ian’s costars serve as a nice counterweight to his unhinged tendencies. The entire cast turns in impressive performances. But it was Nicky (Hayden J. Weal) that made the greatest impact on me.

Like Ian, Nicky is quite quirky. He creates a sense of unease from the moment he arrives on the scene. His presence serves to add to the innate sense of paranoia established from the onset. Nicky is a know-it-all and it’s clear that he either doesn’t understand social cues or doesn’t have much interest in abiding by them. He brashly ignores Ian’s timid requests to be left alone and insists on accompanying him on his journey. Nicky continues to ask Ian questions when it’s quite clear Ian has no interest in conversing, answering inquiries, or making new friends. But that does absolutely nothing to deter Nicky.

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Weal does a fine job bringing Nicky to life in a comical and almost likable fashion. He perfectly captures that self-assured overconfidence that some men seem to have hardwired into their DNA. When his fellow travelers warn him about drinking river water (ever heard of giardia?) he just says that he has a steel stomach and dismisses their concerns. Additionally, he is convinced that every woman he encounters is taken with him. In fact, he thinks a young lady honeymooning with her spouse is keen for some sort of tryst, even though she has shown absolutely no sign that she’s looking for anything more than a hiking buddy. Though he is a lot to take, Nicky makes for just the right yin to Ian’s yang. 

In addition to great characters, the film also features gorgeous cinematography by Milon Tesiram. The camerawork captures the natural beauty of New Zealand in all its brilliance.

To say any more than what I have already said may spoil certain surprises. So, I will stop here and conclude by saying that Loop Track is a thrilling affair with colorful characters and an unpredictable narrative. If you are interested in seeking the flick out, you can catch it on digital via Dark Sky now.  

  • ‘Loop Track’


‘Loop Track’ is unpredictable and darkly comical.

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