Review: Backcountry, a treelined nightmare

Adam MacDonald’s feature film debut brings raw, slow-burning terror into the woods in Backcountry, a nature-run-amok film that delivers pure, masterful viciousness to a story about a couple that find themselves on the wrong side of bear territory after getting lost on a camping trip. With its unique atmosphere soaked in paranoia, Backcountry is a special breed of horror that climbs to an inevitable, nerve-shredding conclusion.

Using the beautiful and open wilderness as his canvas, MacDonald takes a very calculated approach to his survival thriller by forcing a charming couple to get lost in the middle of nowhere, leaving them scared and alone. But what this film does so well is that it actually spends time with its characters, allowing the audience to really get to know them by dedicating most of its runtime to their slow descent into the unknown. In doing so, it creates a very subtle tension that gradually claws its way into the narrative, teasing you every step of the way.

MacDonald never once tries to hide the fact that his couple is going to eventually encounter a bear, either. And that’s because we already know exactly what his movie is about, there’s no real mystery to it and certainly no point in trying to disguise it as something it’s not. So what does he do? He constantly reminds the audience that there’s a threat out there—a paw print here, a half devoured deer there—pulling you in scene after scene, inching us closer and closer to the inevitable. It’s a very determined way to tell a story and it’s also a risky one, too, because the payoff has to be big and it has to hit hard.

Backcountry’s unpredictable, slow-cooking approach creates some of the most authentic and genuine horror you’re likely to see in a film this year. It’s so well-timed and perfectly paced that by the time MacDonald’s world comes crashing down, it will steal your breathe away. The final stretch of the film, when we finally come face to face with the bear, is brutal as all get out. What was once a film so measured in slow-burn tactics, becomes an unrelenting exercise in cutthroat insanity. Good luck catching your breathe in this one. It’s an intense, horrifying final moments that was built around the less is more approach and Backcountry absolutely nailed it.

MacDonald shows patience behind the camera, telling a familiar story in an unexpected way, making his feature film debut all the more impressive. Backcountry isn’t for the faint of heart; it creeps and crawls its way to a ferocious finale, one that will make you glad to be inside. It’s a monster movie in which nature is the monster and it’s a terrifying reminder of just how fragile you and I are.


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If you are ever attacked by a gorilla just sit back and relax while you enjoy the once in a life time feeling of your limbs being ripped off.

17 thoughts on “Review: Backcountry, a treelined nightmare

  1. As someone who enjoys camping and backpacking quite a lot, I have to say this review has got me jazzed to see this. Backcountry sounds grounded in reality, and there are few things more unsettling than being out there on the trail and realizing you’re not alone there.

    Me and some.buddies actually came across a black bear in the Smoky Mtns a few months ago at night and it was hairy shit. We were fine, but we were definitely in her territory, and knew that we were near her cubs or her den. Classic reminder of what can happen if you don’t know what you’re getting into.

    1. Oh, man, that’s just terrifying. This film outta hit pretty close for you then. Hope you like this one as much as I did, it’s really something special.

  2. Great review but I’ll be skipping this one. I’ve never been able to get into the whole “nature run amok” thing. Maybe because nature’s my “happy place” and I don’t want that effed up, haha.

  3. I stopped reading after the first paragraph, and I skipped the trailer. It seems interesting and I saw your 4/5 score. So, I’m gonna try to give this one a watch soon. It better not suck, or I will be back here to be reimbursed. lol. j/k. 🙂

    1. Haha, I think you’ll like it. If you’re into survival horror then you really can’t go wrong with this one. It’s pretty formulaic as far as story goes, but other than that this one is fantastic.

  4. I’m not fragile. I would have stood toe-to-toe with that thing and swatted him in his furry mouth! 🙂

    Just finally saw this last night per your recommendation, and DAMN that bear was huge!

    I agree w/ most of your review here. One thing that annoyed the heck out of me was why dude didn’t use the bear spray more!?


    The first time the bear came to the tent the guy didn’t pull out the bear spray; bear comes in and bites girl – then bites guy – and THEN they realize “Maybe we should use this bear spray!” and they spread the heck out of his face – and guess what? THE BEAR RUNS AWAY!

    Okay, good thinking. Bear has retreated. Moments later, bear comes back…”Hey I’m not going to use the spray again; let me just be an appetizer!” LOL.

    That bugged the heck out of me.

    Other than that, I thought it was good. I actually thought the ending was better the way it was executed as our girl got away, but didn’t have some corny showdown w/ the bear.

    Good review and recommendation! 🙂

    1. Yeah, the bear spray part annoyed me a little, too. You’d think that would be the first thing they did once a bear was approaching. Oh well, made for an insane attack scene! Glad you dug it, man!

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