Fantasia International Film Festival 2017 Review: ‘Killing Ground’ will swear you off camping for life.


The disturbing horror, thriller follows a couple’s romantic camping trip that becomes a desperate fight for survival in this ultra-raw, unhinged kill ride. In need of a break from the pressures of their life in the city, Sam (Harriet Dyer) and Ian (Ian Meadows) head to a remote beach for a weekend getaway. When they come across an abandoned campsite, with no trace of its occupants, they’re concerned. When they discover a lone, traumatized child nearby, they’re scared. And when they encounter two local weirdos, they’re in for a hell of a bad time. Unfolding in an innovative, time-scrambling structure, Killing Ground delivers both nerve-shredding suspense and gut-punching realism.

KILLING GROUND marks the debut feature of writer/director Damien Power and stars Australian actors Aaron Pedersen (ABC’s “Jack Irish”), Ian Meadows (Network Ten’s “The Wrong Girl”), Harriet Dyer (Nine Network’s “Love Child”) and Aaron Glenane (Truth).

As a kid, I was an avid camper. After seeing Killing Ground, I may never go again. As a mother, thanks to this film, I’ll never, ever bring my children with me to a remote location where I am more than shouting distance away from lots and lots of other campers… with weapons. Killing Ground is a slow burn of menace that keeps you feeling uneasy and queasy it’s entire 93 min runtime. With a multiple narrative style, you already know something horrible is coming but you’re forced to sit through the time jumps just to get to certain doom. Anything with balls enough to put children in true, murderous harm’s way will get me every time now that I’m a parent. But you don’t have to have kids of your own to be deeply affected by the horrors on screen, you just have to have an ounce more heart than the film’s villains. While last week’s SOLD OUT screening at Fantasia Fest may have left many in the lurch, fear not. Killing Ground actually gets its theatrical and VOD release this week, July 21st. Check out the trailer below.

  • USA
  • 2017
  • 89 mins
  • English



  • Directed by: Damien Power
  • Written by: Damien Power
  • Cast: Harriet Dyer, Aaron Glenane, Ian Meadows, Aaron Pederson
  • Company: IFC Midnight

‘BACKCOUNTRY” will scare the shit out of you. Don’t plan on camping ever again. Liz chats with Writer/Director Adam MacDonald.

Backcountry poster

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. BackcountryMissyStillJenn 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.

unnamedMissy 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. BackcountryJeffStillThe 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.) BackcountryBradStillI 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.