Sunday, April 1, 2007


Survival horror has a new contender in Wilderness, a nasty little number directed by Michael J. Bassett (who also helmed the World War I-set Deathwatch).

Racing along at a fast clip right out of the gate, Wilderness takes some ten minutes or so to set up Callum (Toby Kebbell), the New Kid on the (Cell)Block at Moorgates Young Offenders, where some prison bullying leads to a bunch of inmates being sent off to “The Wilderness,” an isolated, supposedly uninhabited island where the prison system’s worst offenders can be sent for “character building” and “rehabilitation.”
Shepherded by Warden Jed Wyler (Sean Pertwee, from Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers), the lads soon find that they aren’t alone on the island. Among the unexpected guests, are Louise Dow (Alex Reid, from Neil Marshall’s The Descent; a little Marshall lovefest going on, eh?), of Temple Park women’s facility, with some young charges of her own.
Of course, there are other, more unwelcome guests, some of whom have brought highly trained and vicious attack dogs for a spot of fun.

There’s a fair amount of blood and gore in this production, but all that grue is firmly supported by a script by Dario Poloni that doesn’t stop for a breather, and excellent performances from the young British thesps (among them Lenora Crichlow from TV’s brilliant Sugar Rush) who play this rag tag bunch of sociopaths and sex offenders, who are also, by the way, the protagonists we’re asked to sympathize and identify with.
It’s to the credit of these actors and the script, that we actually do (well, identify with some of them, at least).

Wilderness is the sort of brutal tale where the descent into savagery is all too quick and easy; the kind of film that shows you how flimsy the mask of civilized man really is.
Look alive, this one’s got some teeth on it. And a couple of cracking the-sodding-maniac-was-in-the-bloody-frame-the-whole-time! shots that are guaranteed whoppers.

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