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Backwoods

USA 2020
produced by
Kris Skoda, Thomas Smith (executive), Erin Lilley (executive) for Fighting Owl Films
directed by Thomas Smith
starring Isabella Alberti, Michael Anthony Bagozzi, Matthew McCoy, Scott Alan Warner, Angelina Alberti, Tahj Vaughans, Elliot Hamilton, Jeremy Sande, Erin Lilley, Bryce Goleman, Benji Graham
written by Erin Lilley, Thomas Smith, music by Soren Odom, special effects makeup by Chris Nelson/Acrotomic Studios, Hangman-mask by Imortal Masks

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Molly (Isabella Alberti) wakes up to find herself tied up in the trunk of a moving car. However, she manages to cut the bonds that tie her, and when the car's stopped and the trunk is opened, she manages to injure her masked abductor in a surprise attack and take off into the woods. He comes after her but is stopped cold by a deformed hulk of a man dubbed The Hangman (Scott Alan Warner), who then goes after Molly - and eventually she ends up his captive. To her surprise, she's soon joined by her childhood friend Noah (Michael Anthony Bagozzi) in her captivity, and between the two of them they manage to overcome the Hangman and make it into the woods. But how did this all start?

Molly's high school's football team celebrates a victory in a cabin in the woods, and as the leader of the cheerleading team and girlfriend of top jock Hunter (Matthew McCoy), Molly pretty much had to be there. However, at this party Hunter tries to force himself onto Molly a bit too hard, which leads to a big row with Molly eventually storming off. She runs into Noah, the waterboy and constant butt of jokes of all the jocks, but also her best friend who really understands her - but then again, he might want to be more than just her friend. Eventually, she passes out in his arms, and it seems Hunter has roofied her. Seeing Molly in Noah's arms, Hunter storms onto the scene and knocks him down - and that's about the last Molly can remember, but it doesn't explain how she and Noah ended up on the run from the Hangman ...

 

Now this might feel like a backwoods slasher, with all the tropes firmly in place, but it actually is more than just that, as not only does it offer a backstory for Molly and Noah that's almost as mean as anything the Hangman dishes out, to the point where he doesn't seem to be all that much of a villain anymore, it also tries a fresh approach that tells some of the story in flashbacks that rather beautifully fit into the main thread on an associative level and also directly link to reveals in the main storyline. But a dynamic and tight direction sees to it that  the narrative still flows along stringently and at a steady pace, while a strong cast really grounds the story and make this one a very cool genre piece.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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