Girls Rule and Boys Drool in ‘Backcountry’


**WARNING: Spoilers Ahead**

Written and Directed by Adam MacDonald, Backcountry is the story of Alex (Jeff Roop) and Jenn (Missy Peregrym) who take off into the remote wilderness for a romantic weekend and find themselves lost and being stalked by a blood-thirsty bear. Loosely based on the true story of Jacqueline Perry and Mark Jordan, whose own backcountry trip in Northern Ontario turned into a real life nightmare when they encountered a human-hunting bear, Backcountry is the newest addition to a little known and under-appreciated subgenre of horror: the bear movie.

Backcountry begins with Alex and Jenn being all cutesy, heading out of the city so Alex can show her the joys of camping. Very quickly, Alex is revealed to be a bit of an egotistical doofus. His confidence in his role as outdoors-man extraordinaire is clear to everyone but him. “Oh no, Mr. Park Ranger Who Can’t Possibly Know More Than Me, I won’t be needing a map, I laugh in the face of maps.” “LOL silly girlfriend, you don’t neeeed bear spray or a flare or a cell phone in case we get lost.” “I’m just not going to mention seeing fresh bear tracks.” “OF COURSE I know where I’m going…”

It’s almost over-the-top how many stupid things Alex does in order to prove his manliness. When they meet a handsome Irishman in the woods who goads Alex into deciding to take Jenn up a closed trail that he hasn’t visited since high school it’s almost an unnecessary plot device. The way his personality is portrayed, he most likely would have ended up going in that direction anyway.

But aside from the unbearable (see what I did there) qualities of Alex’s character, the film does have it’s excellent moments and the pacing improves vastly once the focus shifts to Jenn. First of all, the cinematography is stunning. It’s pretty hard to make the vast, harsh beauty of the Canadian wilderness look bad, but Backcountry does an exceptional job showing both the magnificence and the loneliness of the landscape. It’s also impressive how, despite not having an actual bear attacking our screaming protagonists (because that would be crazy), the effects are quite realistic with fast cuts and flashes of fur and bloody teeth. It could have been cheesy, but it was deliciously terrifying.

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And lastly, the character of Jenn. Interestingly, one of the many changes that MacDonald made to the true story, was to reverse the gender of the survivor. If MacDonald and attempted to do a faithful re-telling of real life events, Alex would have attempted to save a fatally wounded Jenn and made it out alive. Instead,


becomes the survival story of a city lawyer discovering her inner bad-ass woman who gets away from a murderous bear, sleeps in a tree, eats leaves to live, clambers through dangerous terrain, and, despite being near death at all times, beats the odds and gets herself out of a terrifying situation. This is what saved the film for me, I give it a solid three out of five stars.

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