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“BACKCOUNTRY” (Blu-ray Review)

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As far back as people have been telling stories, there’s few places that have been as integral to horror tales than the woods. Whether its the setting of a black magic ritual by a coven of witches or a backwoods murderer in a mask and overalls, the forest is one of the few places that can invoke fear in even the most ardent of fright fans. Yet for a film like BACKCOUNTRY, the scariest aspect of the woods is nature itself: the unforgiving reality of a lost couple at the mercy of the wilderness and all of its inhabitants.

BACKCOUNTRY is a relatively simple film, and the genre-esque elements mostly boil under the surface of the film in order to punctuate the grounded approach to the material. At its core, BACKCOUNTRY is almost a brilliant exercise in perpetual misdirection, offering plenty of foreboding threats that hint at more genre-friendly avenues in which the film could potentially go. However, rather than go down those routes, BACKCOUNTRY rather sticks to simplicity, allowing the atmosphere, environment and performances convey a reality far more terrifying than any fictional horror construct could convey.

BACKCOUNTRY is even more impressive when you factor in the film is a first-time feature from director Adam MacDonald, whose choice to pursue a more intimate narrative is not only conducive to the budget but audience expectations. And while the marketing of the film let the bear out of the bag, BACKCOUNTRY works as one of the most effective horror films of its ilk in recent memory by picking and choosing exactly when we see the hulking horror in full view. Add to that powerful and genuinely nerve-wracking performances from Missy Peregrym and Jeff Roop, as well as a cleverly deceptive performance from Eric Balfour, and BACKCOUNTRY makes for a compelling horror film under the guise of a quieter, more dramatic affair.

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Luckily, BACKCOUNTRY is a damn good film deserving of a damn good home media release, and they certainly get just that from Scream Factory. While there are some depth issues at times, partly due to the largely handheld digital cinematography, the image is incredibly clear and vibrant throughout and the natural landscapes look absolutely stunning in 1080p. Likewise, the audio transfer is equally as impressive for Scream Factory, offering a dynamic and layered sound design that will provide an immersive experience for those with impressive home theater set-ups.

While not stacked with features, BACKCOUNTRY does include enough supplemental material to please both collectors and first time viewers as well. While the Behind-the-Scenes featurette is more of a standard yet interesting addition, the best feature might be the short but sweet “Bear Shots” featurette, even though MacDonald, Roop and Peregrym’s informative yet casual audio commentary is a close second. Furthermore, BACKCOUNTRY also comes with a still gallery and trailer, for those interested.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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