MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Teddy Grennan
Starring: Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Eric Nelsen, Bruce Dern
Runtime: 1 hr 17 mins
What It Is: Harper (Dexter-Jones) is a nature photographer taking a trip out to the woods. When she comes upon a group of men lynching and whipping a stranger to death, she manages to take pictures of them and runs off in attempt to indite them. At the sheriffs office, she ends up being kidnapped by the men and is strung up to be raped and tortured. What they couldn’t have anticipated was Harper’s drive for revenge and her instinct to carry on no matter what the consequences.
What We Think: There are things about this film that make it absolutely worth watching and other things that you’ll have to excuse. I’ll start with the critical stuff first simply because I think the good definitely outweighs the bad. There are plot holes (a character arrives in a place in what doesn’t feel like part of a realistic timeline for the sake of plot), some weird inconsistent shots and editing, bad cgi (at least in the version I was given), and some cheesy dialogue, namely in the beginning having to do with one character in particular. There are certain moments that force you to suspend your disbelief, nothing I haven’t seen before in horror movies. If you haven’t already caught on, this is indeed a rape-and-revenge film (a genre I for whatever reason have watched many an entry from) with a relatively simple plot, a simple framing device with a detective, and bouts of predictability. That being said–all the things that do work are fantastic. There are concepts proved that are delivered with a pretty perfection and despite this being a much more comparably accessible rape-and-revenge, these concepts still result in a brutal, satisfying watch. The cast for the most part is solid–of course Annabelle Dexter-Jones proves as a righteously capable icon meant to subvert yours and the other characters’ expectations, making her one of my favorite final girls I’ve seen on film. Much of the film features minimal dialogue exchanged for some gripping and well-shot action, unique and intense kill scenes, and graceful setups resulting in some unshakable badassery. Other than the shots that don’t work for me (really there’s only one, coincidently it’s with a character I thought was unrealistic and unnecessary), all of the other filming was polished enough and worked with the action well. The style of this flick makes respectable nods to a specific era of brutality in film found in the mid-to-late 20th century, comparable to works such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and I Spit On Your Grave, and while it may not get to that level of brutality necessarily (I can say as much the filmmakers spare us some grief without sacrificing the weight of conflict) the simplicity and newness that this film offers makes it worth your time, especially if you’re into this kinds of films which I certainly tend to be. It is a refreshing entry for its genre. I would even put this above something like Eden Lake. The protagonist is admirable and likable despite being flawed, the graphic elements overall make for a pulpy and cool viewing experience, and GODDAMN, the score is honestly brilliant–I loved the main theme and it worked to really heighten every moment it came into play.
Our Grade: C+, I might give this bad boy a higher grade later on. I found quite a few issues with it, but that only proves even though there are many ways in which a movie can improve in its departments, it can still come out a shining, bloody player in the game of entertainment. It started with a bang and it left with a bang; a chilly, hardcore, and fast watch and honestly, I would love to see a sequel. I am not kidding, I really want one, though I’ll also be into watching whatever else the filmmakers come out with next. If you need something to prepare you for the Halloween season or camping alone in the woods, I would highly recommend peeping into this bombastic, rousing thriller.