In Connecticut, where I grew up, we bungee cord our trash cans closed. In truth, it does not do a damn thing when Black Bears come into the yard and rip those suckers open like they’re peeling back foil on a yogurt cup. I once had a very close encounter when I almost hit a baby bear while pulling into the driveway. And we all know what baby bears mean, right? Mama is not far behind. Although I now live in Manhattan, I have not fully left behind the days of hiking and camping in a tent. None of this fancy RV business for my family. We had a tent, built legit fires, and funded the new wing of the L.L. Bean flagship store as any respectable New Englander should. By no means do I consider myself any sort of expert on the outdoors, but damnit, I was a campfire girl. I earned badges. Watching Adam MacDonald‘s new film BACKCOUNTRY kinda ruined all those blissful memories for me. To be clear, I mean that in the best way possible. Jenn and Alex take a few days off from their city life to go hiking in a state park where Alex had spent time as a youngster. Insistent that he knows where they are heading sans map, Jenn musters up the confidence to trust her boyfriend’s experience, although she’s no dummy. Jenn is armed with bear spray and a flare, just for comfort. Along the way, they encounter an odd fellow named Brad. Brad is a backcountry tour guide who instantly challenges Alex’s manhood. It’s not long before the audience senses the dread on Alex’s face. We know as soon as he does, they are lost. In the middle of the woods, no map, no other people anywhere is screaming distance, can these two survive long enough to make it back to civilization? Certain doom.
Missy Peregrym is a force as Jenn. Her vulnerability is only matched by her wit and strength, as she claws her way through this nightmare. Jeff Roop plays Alex. He’s a well meaning guy, if not a tad emasculated via circumstance. You completely buy that these two are a couple. Their chemistry is palpable and wholeheartedly relatable. You feel for them as you fear for them. Eric Balfour plays creepy man, Brad. He is great in every role. There is something just off enough about his demeanor to keep you on your toes. Balfour is that guy you never want to meet in this scenario. The uncomfortable factor hits a high notes once he steps onto the screen. Massive high five to Adam MacDonald for injecting elements of truth into the script. Even if you aren’t an avid outdoors person, this film will still freak you out. Nature is not something to be trifled with. You need to respect it. you’re in its house out there. The film has a fantastic sense of peril from the get go. Cute couple, venturing off in the wilderness, unaccompanied, already equals “bad shit is most definitely going down”, all attributed to MacDonald‘s brilliant sense of realism. The sound editing is exquisite and the hand held camera work makes you feel like you’re right with Jenn and Alex, even if you wish you weren’t. With a 15 day shooting schedule, the quality of practical effects in Backcountry is huge. These guys should teach a masterclass based solely on one scene on the film. Combined with genius use of soft focus probably saves the audience from actually vomiting while watching. (Again, total compliment.) I got to have an awesome conversation with Adam. I’m pretty sure we’re friends now in some weird , fellow camper, bear scare induced, land. The following is our chat. We delve into some pretty spoilery questions about the film, talk about the subway, women in film, and pretty much everything in between. And, don’t worry, that moment of silence in there is when Adam was pulling up a picture that Missy sent him on his phone, so hang in there. It continues to be pretty great.
BACKCOUNTRY will be available in theaters and on VOD Friday, March 20th.