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Backcountry (Blu-ray Review)

BackcountryThis fall, the tension-filled, critically acclaimed thriller Backcountry makes its Blu-ray and DVD debut on September 1st, 2015 from Scream Factory, in partnership with IFC Midnight. Featuring exciting new bonus content including an audio commentary, behind the scenes featurettes and more, this title can be pre-ordered now from ShoutFactory.com.  Written and directed by Adam MacDonald,  Backcountry also stars Eric Balfour (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Skyline, Haven), Melanie Mullen (Dead Before Dawn 3D) and Nicholas Campbell (The Brood, The Dead Zone).

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Film 

A tense thriller about a young couple camping in the Canadian wilderness, Backcountry is a heart-stopping, full-tilt run through deadly territory. Alex is a seasoned camper, but Jenn is not. But when they realize that they have entered bear territory, the terror gets turned up to a whole new level.

First off, THANK YOU Adam MacDonald and the producers of this film.  This thing SO EASILY could have been done or compromised to be a found footage film and instead went the traditionally shot route.  That is RARE for a horror movie about people wandering into the woods with danger surrounding them nowadays.  And to boot, there are the same type intense scenes and scenarios that show up here that play out just as effectively without somebody worried about filming it all.

You’ve seen trouble in the woods movies before, but this one is done quite well, contains some surprises and keeps you on your toes throughout.  Its one thing, then another and its all natural and works with everything that’s thrown at it.  Its a fun little film that never overstays its welcome, and should satisfy horror nerds of all types; suspenseful and gory.

I always have liked Missy Peregrym dating back to the short lived Reaper (A much better showing for her than her stint on Heroes was), but this film challenged her and she knocked it out of the park.  There’s a whole range of drama that her character convincingly pulls off, but even moreso there’s a physicality, vulnerability and adrenalized survival mode she has to usher in on top of that and she pulls it off in spades.  She’s definitely got what it takes to be a part of much bigger films in a leading capacity, and hopefully people can take notice.

 I was pleasantly surprised with this backwoods thriller.  It’ll have you feeling uncomfortable, biting your nails and rooting for people to survive.  You also get to have Eric Balfour as a creepy Irishman.  I’ve kept from diving into story spoiler territory as I hope most people just go in on the basic premise of the film like I do and are plenty surprised.  Actor Adam MacDonald shows some promise as a horror director and I’m interested to see what he follows this up with.  This is a really fun, short escape on a horror adventure into familiar territory done very well.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  Backcountry looks really neat here on Blu-ray.  Detail and sharpness are very high bringing a crisp image to your screen.  The woods looks and feels as if you’re right there camping yourself.  Clothing fabrics, leaves, trails and tree bark all shine through in terms of fine detail.

Depth:  For a little production, this does a decent job of distance and three dimensional feel throughout.  There are a couple overlook scenes that are pretty impressive.

Black Levels: Blacks struggle a little bit during the nighttime scenes due to what might be just some poor/natural lighting scenes.  A little bit of crushing is evident.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are natural for the most part.  Greens and oranges bring the fall feel to life.  Clothing articles on the characters look accurate and the colors are bold where they need be.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural for most of the film.  Detail such as cuts, moles, make up, stubble and the like come through on facial detailing.

Noise/Artifacts:  Nothing aside from the stuff mentioned in the “Black Levels” section

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  Once again, this 7.1 track is a bit excessive, but the film makes some work out of it.  Effects and the like really create a great deep woods tension.  The loud rustling scenes come across well refined, and the silent moments with little sounds will make you feel holed up in a small tent even thought you’re in your living room.

Low Frequency Extension:  Not a huge player here, the sub woofer does step up when it needs to help with a thud or attack.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Some good ambiance, leaves slapping around coming from the sides and rear speakers.  During scenes where you can here things outside the tent, the 4 side/rear speakers do have some fun.  The front speakers go back and forth with great accuracy and present the woods as it would be right outside your door.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp, with wonderful clarity and positional accuracy.

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Extras 

The cover isn’t features an alternative poster design to use for cover art on the reverse side.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Adam MacDonald, Jeff Roop and Missy Peregrym

Behind The Scenes (HD, 17:25) – A bit of an EPK friendly piece, but its lengthy and has interviews with the whole cast, writer/director and producer.

Bear Shots (HD, 2:01) – The bear wrangler had asked the director to give him storyboards of the shots the bear would be included in to help him practice.  Here we have video of them with a cat in place of the bear.

Still Gallery – Images of behind the scenes, effects shots & make up.

Trailer (HD, 2:03) 

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Summary 

Backcountry is a nifty little woodsy thriller that comes as a relief that something can take place in the woods in the horror genre and not bew found footage.  This release features great audio and video, as well as some decent extras to accompany the film.  If you’re looking for some new, tense horror to keep you company on a dark night, Scream Factory has two of them coming this September in their partnership with IFC Midnight.  Backcountry is one of them.  Check it out if you’re curious.

Backcountry-Blu-ray

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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