Backwoods a Lot of Meandering Setup for a Post-Credits Payoff

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The deformed Hangman of BACKWOODS.

Thomas Smith directs BACKWOODS, a low-budget horror with some surprisingly good effects and a decent attempt at a plot twist. In fact, the post-credits ending is a rather neat payoff -- you just have to endure the entire movie before that. It's akin to watching Simone Biles stick the landing after drunkenly bumping around on the parallel bars.

The first thing you have to get used to is the film's penchant for nonlinear storytelling. It jumps back and forth, from the moment we first meet Molly (Isabella Alberti) tied up in the trunk of a vehicle, making her escape. Almost instantly we go back to the football game where she was cheering, then back to escaping the trunk, then back to the aftergame party, then back to Molly lost in the woods. You get the idea. There is a place -- one place -- where the technique is actually useful, and i understand the Macguffin the film is trying to keep covered by doing this, but it's overdone.

Molly is in a section of the woods where the local legends talk about The Hangman, who killed any man who trespassed in his woods, and kept any woman for a bride. It was a true story, and the police shot and killed the man. But legends live on, and when Molly finds a ramshackle cabin, she comes face-to-disfigured-face with the new Hangman, a mishapen hulking brute.By this time she's no longer alone -- Noah (Michael Anthony Bagozzi) has tracked her down, and told her how he witnessed her boyfriend, Hunter (Matthew McCoy) drug her drink and then drive away from the party with her. From that point forward, it's a story of survival, opportunities, and revisiting traps telegraphed in the first fifteen minutes of the movie.

While the script could have used some judicious editing, the casting is what's particularly egregious. Bagozzi gets off some good lines, delivered believably, but a good portion of the film doesn't have the quality of a college indie production; it's more reminescent of high school literature class on read-out-loud day. The action is slow and the emotions are barely convincing.

BACKWOODS is a cheap enough rental on Amazon, and a decent study in prosthetics for horror fans. But the most fun will probably be in throwing barbs at it with your friends.

2.5 / 5.0