Wild Country (2006)
Director: Craig Strachan
Samantha Shields/Kelly Ann
Peter Capaldi/Father Steve
After squeezing out a kid and giving it up for adoption, young Kelly Ann (Shields) joins her teenage friends for a good old fashioned hiking trip into the vast â€śland of the great Sean Conneryâ€ť Scotland hills. There they encounter a vicious creature longing for teen TV Dinner! The snacks run, the monster hunts them down! Let the buffet begin!
There was a lot to groove on within the moderately budgeted â€śall Scottish and proud of itâ€ť WILD COUNTRY with the endearing teen leads being the first item to check on the â€śgood stuffâ€ť list. Not only were the teenagers actually played by real life teenagers (Take note Hollywood), but all of the performances were incredibly natural and credible. Result? You know the drill: I believed in them, hence I cared; so I got into the film more.
Fist time young actress Samantha Shields should be singled out (and I just did) as she stood out of the lot via owning the scenery like a damn veteran. Talk about raw talent! If this girl doesnâ€™t go places, then the film industry is not about talentâ€¦wait a minuteâ€¦I forgotâ€¦its notâ€¦ itâ€™s about whom you know, how much silicone you can stuff in one tit and how well you stroke the jerkyâ€¦but I digress. The horror at play was worth the kill for the most part as well. The flick set itself up in a familiar fashion (kids+nature setting+monsters=been there done that) while at the same time addressing a compelling human theme for good measure, the one of maternal instincts. Both horror and idea eventually collided to serve up a tad more depth than the norm (I said a tad) and a cleverly ironic finale.
Suspense wise; once it all kicked into â€śbeast on the huntâ€ť gear, the film didnâ€™t let up until the end credits. We got lots of tension laced chase scenes that were often jacked up to a higher plane by the naturalistic approach to the material (think Blair Witch Project but with a Tripod) and the arresting wide open landscapes they were set in. I loved them hills! And I donâ€™t mean the chicks for once, I mean the actual hills! Then we had the creature tomfoolery which came through tooâ€¦ in the last half of the film at least. Being that the murders were fairly lame in the first half (off screen, quick cut-aways), most likely to cover up the low budget, I was pleasantly taken aback when the howlers surfaced. I didnâ€™t see those fun, over the top and graphic gags coming! FUN STUFF! Sure, I wouldâ€™ve dug more of those from the get-go, but hey, a couple was better than none.
On the â€śZipper sideâ€ť of the monster suit; the creature design left a lot to be desired in some instances. Once out of the bag, it often looked like a dude on all fours wearing a prosthetic monster mask (Est tu Victor Salva?). At first the shoddy looking critter took me out of the story and ruined some â€śsupposed to be scaryâ€ť bits. But as the clock moved forward, I either got used to it or the filmmakers put more dough in the baddie for later scenes. Either way, I got pulled back into the game. Then there was the token â€śdumb moveâ€ť kicking in. Too bad as the film was doing so well in terms of playing it grounded and real. Thatâ€™s until two kids running from the beast, climbed a tree, sat on branches and talked out their relationshipâ€¦while the murderous creature stared them down with rage from the bottom. I donâ€™t know about you, but if a monster is eyeing me as Iâ€™m stuck up a tree, the last thing on my mind would be my love life, the first thing would be: RUN BITCH RUN!â€ť Lastly, although pretty damn kool, I felt that the final act was a tad too rushed for my taste buds, losing some of its power in the process. They had a way gnarly idea, BUILD IT UP! Make me earn it dammit!
All in all WILD COUNTRY was a competent and entertaining genre baby that obviously came from the dead beat heart and that often made up for the boo-boos at hand. You gonna take a stroll within this Wild Country?
We get mucho bit of throats, an exploding cow and a dude chewed in half at the waist (nice!). There couldâ€™ve been more gore (first half of film) but what was there rang my bell.
Samantha Shields (Kelly Ann) was a revelation! Intense, focused, credible and magneticâ€¦and this was her first role! Nicola Muldoon (Louise) was a cutie and quite believableâ€¦call me in 5 years hunâ€¦weâ€™ll talk over beers! Martin Compston (Lee) was on the ball as the older of the bunch while funnily enough Peter Capaldi (Father Steve), who was the most seasoned performer in the film, gave the less believable display. Donâ€™t get me wrong, he didnâ€™t stink the scenery, but compared to the uber natural kids, he came across asâ€¦a guy â€śactingâ€ť. NOTE: The fact that I grew to like these kids, even with their thick â€śsubtitles wouldâ€™ve been niceâ€ť Scottish accents at play was yet another statement as to this ensemble cast talent. I didnâ€™t always get what they were saying, but heyâ€¦ I liked them a whole lot anyways.
T & A
Any nudity in the mix? Well if you consider pot bellied, Peter Capaldiâ€™s whiter than white chalk naked ass nudityâ€¦yes there is. Otherwise do what I did, stare at the creatureâ€™s hairy behind and dream of Vegas!
Director Craig Strachan went the â€śmatter of fact, un-intrusiveâ€ť way of shooting. Glazing â€śdocumentaryâ€ť style, his naturalistic approach pumped up the suspense and served the situation well. On the other end of the knife, the flick looked a tad flat in places if you ask me, too colorlessâ€¦I was starting to get depressed! Loved those â€śEvil Deadâ€ť like POV shots though!
Noneâ€¦just ambient sound in this cage, it worked for the film in terms of keeping with the naturalistic tone. At the same time some scenes couldâ€™ve benefited from some type of music to jack them up!
I canâ€™t say that Iâ€™ve seen many Scottish horror films, but if Wild Country is any indication as to how they go about things, Iâ€™m all for more. Although flawed, there was purity about this film that I dug. You could feel Hollywood so far away from it which was refreshing. Familiar yet effective premise, stellar acting, a tight pace, some good ideas and a novel ending, Wild Country got the job done with heart and skills. Granted more money couldâ€™ve been tossed into the creature suit and the graphic kills but on the whole I had fun with it and hopefully you will to! And is it me or do Scottish people come across as a fine bunch? This decent flick, coupled with my love for Sean "007" Connery have now convinced me that I have to visit Scotland one day! Iâ€™m done! Arrow outâ€¦of your daughtersâ€™ bedroom window and off to your sistersâ€™!
The flick was shot in Glasgow, Strathclyde, Scotland.
No news on North American distribution yet.
VISIT THE WILD COUNTY WEBSITE HERE