Genius Products // 2008 // 84 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 10th, 2009
A weekend retreat...where no one returns.
From RHI, which typically traffics in creature features, comes the latest trend in horror -- and by "latest" I mean "not original and omnipresent" -- murderous hillbillies!
A group of company executives go on a weekend teambuilding retreat into the woods to fire paintballs at each other and solidify their corporate alliances. Not long after the first shots are fired, things go horribly, horribly wrong. From out of the woods comes a band of rednecks, armed with high-powered weapons, and they immediately get their slaughtering on.
As our heroes try to escape, they are captured and brought deep into the bad guys' lair. Who are they? What do they want? For one woman (Haylie Duff), the answer will be weird and painful.
Actually, I'll slide some credit over to Backwoods: it's not the clichéd killer-hillbillies-gone-wild slasher flick it seemed to be. Sure there are killer-hillbillies-gone-wild, but their motivations to slice and dice are significantly more nuanced than "I got bored playing the banjo and just love killing unsuspecting city folk." There's a substantial mythology cooked up to drive the bad guys, complete with cult-like influences and drug-running shenanigans.
See, the rednecks mistakenly think the paintballers are FBI agents come to shut their operation down, leading to a solid final act where a few of the survivors team up and get proactive. That's a nice change of pace right there, having the good guys not merely be bleeding cannon fodder who run away like babies. These dudes man up and drop napalm on the drug-running hillbillies, shooting them to death and rescuing the girls who have been taken advantage of by the cult leader's dimwitted giant of a rapist son.
That's all pretty cool, but it still doesn't elevate the material much beyond mediocre. The characters are flimsy, the women are relegated to victims, and the guys are screamers. The main dude is a little more fleshed out, coming across as timid and weak in the beginning, but morphing into leader of the resistance and a quasi-badass. The action, despite having its moments of shooting and explosions, peters out towards the end. In fact, there's a hugely stupid scene when one of the paintballers gets impaled on some branches and he spends like five minutes shooting at rednecks and spitting off one-liners, despite having his pancreas run through on a stick.
Still, it could have been a lot worse, and usually is with these RHI releases. It's no award-winner, but Backwoods moves along at a nice pace and throws a few twists into an emaciated genre. Not sure why the director felt it necessary to have his protagonists walk away slowly from an exploding truck. I never understood that. Who wouldn't want to turn around and look at an awesome fireball?!
A lean DVD awaits, fronted by a solid 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and a 5.1 surround mix. No extras.
This might be the best RHI release I've seen, for what it's worth.
It's Fourth of July weekend, I just ate a delicious grilled chicken sausage,
and I'm in a good mood. Not Guilty.
Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Genius Products
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R