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  • kemps398117 July 2008
    If you've ever been in the middle of taking an exam which requires you to write an essay of which you're fully prepared for but test time runs out before you can complete your thoughts and put them down on paper, that's how you'll feel when this movie ends. I just wanted that little extra something that was missing. It had tension that felt very real and fine acting, especially oldman, and had a constant upbeat pulse throughout the film that kept me interested. But it was a mad dash towards what I hoped would've been an incredible ending but leaves me "out in the rain". Definitely worth a look-see though. Not nearly as bad as what I've been reading.
  • Coventry17 August 2009
    I'm seriously confused about how to properly write a critique on "The Backwoods" without being either overly negative or positive, but nevertheless express my respect to the cast and crew for the film they intended to make. This is a genuine throwback to the era of 70's exploitation film-making, with a truly grim atmosphere and uncompromising violence, but at the same time it's completely unoriginal and derivative. I've read an extended interview with writer/director Koldo Serra, in which he declares that he doesn't understand why so many horror movies are being remade nowadays even though the originals aren't open for any kind of improvement. That might very well be true, and Lord knows I wholeheartedly agree with such a statement, but Serra goes so far in 'bringing homage' to the original classics that he practically copies them as well. "The Backwoods" isn't a remake of any existing 70's flick, but it easily could have been, since it bluntly borrows elements from "Deliverance", "Straw Dogs" and "The Wild Bunch".

    Cleverly set in the year 1978, so that the script at least didn't had to take into account malfunctioning mobile phones and navigation systems losing their signal, "The Backwoods" revolves on two couples spending a little vacation deep in nearly impenetrable woods of the Spanish Basque region. Paul, the oldest and wisest of the four, bought the old house of his grandmother there and wants to show the beautiful region to his wife and friends. After some very unfriendly welcoming vibes in the local bar already, the quartet faces the ultimate confrontation with the primitive backwoods community when Paul and Norman discover a neglected young girl chained up in a hidden cabin. The girl is the outgrowth of a humiliating family scandal, and the local patriarch Paco so desperately want to keep her existence secret that he mobilizes the rest of the locals for an old-fashioned manhunt. "The Backwoods" is an uneven mishmash of a film in which downright powerful sequences are altered with dreadful clichés and predictable plot twists. The gritty and relentless atmosphere of 70's survival flicks is marvelously re-created, but the script doesn't have the courage to genuinely shock the audience with twisted little details or perverted undertones like they did in the old days. The filming locations are stupendous and the producers managed to attract a fantastic cast (including the brilliant Gary Oldman and Virginie Ledoyen). It's really a shame this film doesn't feature anything truly unique, because I really wanted to like and recommend it.
  • Exciting film set at the end of the 1970s , about four tourists threatened by hooligans locals , as there are hunters and prey . When they return to an ancestral village tensions build between them , a brewing conflict with locals becomes a threat to them . As two couples's holiday called Paul (Gary Oldman) , Lucy (Virginie Ledoyen) , Norman (Paddy Considine) , Isabel (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón) in Spain are interrupted when they discover a girl imprisoned in a cabin . Ledoyen and Considine play a young married couple who are going through a difficult patch in their relationship and come to visit a friend Paul (Oldman) who now lives in the Basque region because he has married a woman from there (Aitiana Sánchez-Gijón) . It escalates quickly into a bloody battle between Brits and Spanish rednecks (Kandido Uranga , Patxi Bisquert , Lluis Homar) . Paul whose pacifism is put to supreme test attempts to protect a dim-witted little girl who they have found locked . They try to help her by taking her away from a dark house , but the local villagers, who have to protect the girl and seem determined to keep her in atrocious conditions, start a pursuit in the forest they know much better than the visitors . As the jealous as well as resentful locals and desirous of women assault their house , as they are viciously attacked . Their house is put under siege by the incensed villagers , but they defend the mansion with ferocity . Later on , they flee seeking security , but their attempts to help the little girl are hampered by the denseness of the forest and a relentless pursuit by the nasty rednecks .

    Violent film contains thrills , chills , suspense , twists , and results to be quite entertaining . A controversial violence-themed picture ; dealing with a known plot , as a group of British people go to a rural little village and face increasingly vicious local harassment . As their tranquil summer turns to horror when they discover a girl with horribly mutilated hands in the forest . We are facing a tense film , hard , tough , brilliant in many moments, with some aspect of western , with a grand and impressive ending . The picture packs intrigue , action , intense drama and lots of violence . The story takes parts , here and there , from famous films such as ¨Deliverance", ¨Wild bunch¨ , ¨Next of kin¨ and especially "Straw Dogs" . The main cast is frankly excellent with players of several nationalities as the British Gary Oldman and Paddy Considine ; French Virginie Ledoyen and Spanish Aitiana Sanchez Gijon . Support cast is mostly Spaniard such as Jon Ariño , Lluís Homar who excels in his acting , Kandido Uranga and special appearance of Álex Angulo , ¨Dia De La Bestia¨'s starring . Gary Oldman, Paddy Considine and Virginie Ledoyen were dubbed for the Spanish version of the film. The scenes where the characters had whole scenes with English dialog were all dubbed ; only when the characters spoke in English with the Spanish characters, the dubbing actors said their lines in English ; 'Aitana Sánchez-Gijon' dubbed herself .

    Unax Mendia cinematography is excellent creating a rainy and cold atmosphere , he's expert on sombre photography , being stunningly shot on location in Navarra woods . Thrilling and moving musical score by Fernando Velazquez who subsequently would make a notorious career with successful films as ¨Orphanage¨ , ¨Devil¨ , ¨Mama¨ and ¨The impossible¨ . The flick was finely produced by the chairman of Filmax Productions , Julio Fernandez along with his brother Carlos Fernandez as executive producer , they're two successful producers and experts on terror genre , producing a lot of hits , such as ¨The machinist¨, ¨Rec ¨1¨, 2¨ and ¨3¨ , ¨Fragiles¨, ¨Darkness¨, ¨El perfume¨ , ¨The nun¨ , ¨Transsiberian¨ and many others . The flick was professionally directed by Koldo Serra in his only film and obtained moderated success . Serra uses many long shots, showing a leisurely narrative pace . Definitely a big "debut" of director Koldo Serra who promises to be a great filmmaker .
  • roko-713 November 2007
    A movie dealing with outsiders stuck out in an inhospitable bucolic nightmare. Definitely a paced and concentrated mix of tension and violence.Hostility sticks out all over this film and the performances are superb. This is a well worked trope but it doesn't matter. Highly recommended if you are keen on things like HAUTE TENSION, WOLF CREEK , SHY PEOPLE or DELIVERANCE. Gary Oldman,who has a great track record and versatility not matched does a grand job here.Probably one of his best roles to date. The villains are a sinister bunch of hill-folk,hints are made in reference to inbreeding and unspeakable acts but all is understated.A climate of violence prevails but does not descend into cartoon-like nonsense ala Tarantino(not knocking Mr T.). Rural Spanish Gothic.
  • Two Englishmen and their girlfriends go on holiday to a remote area of Spain, there one of them, Paul (Gary Oldman), has bought his Spanish grandmothers old house and hopes to settle down there permanently. His friend Norman (Paddy Considine) is having relationship problems with his French girlfriend after they lost a baby and they all hope this trip will settle some issues. While out hunting on their first morning in their house, Paul and Norman get lost in the forest and stumble across what seems to be an abandoned house, they enter and find a young girl that is being held there. They bring her back to their own house and clean her up, once there they become conflicted as to what they should do, this is where their problems begin.

    The film is set in the 1970's and has obviously been influenced by films from that era like Deliverance or Straw Dogs combined perhaps with Calvaire, this all provides an immediate ambiance and sense of menace, one that I like and I knew early on I would enjoy it. Two giants of the British screen, Oldman and Considine add immensely to their characters, Paul is brash and confident, Norman is withdrawn and quiet. Their development when things go wrong is always interesting. If I have any criticisms its perhaps the ending can be seen coming, but its still fun getting there, Virginie Ledoyen is also a little wooden, though that may be down to speaking in English. The cast of Spanish locals is also excellent and well chosen, each one has that lived in face that suits that inbred feel. You'll have no problem believing these guys are capable of murder and rape. If there's one message to be gained from this film, its "Don't mess with the locals".
  • I saw the director's short film which was not good but at least interesting and much better than this full-length movie "Bosque de sombras". Gary Oldman is obviously the only star in this movie but contrary to what the other reviewer said, I believed the Spanish cast was good. It was interesting to hear Gary Oldman speak some Spanish and I give this movie 3 stars because of Aitana Sanchez-Gijon and him.

    Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, who is an excellent Spanish actress that I last watched in "The Machinist" with Christian Bale and was also in other English language movies like "A Walk in the clouds" plays Gary Oldman's wife. She can express mystery and emotion without saying any dialogue. I think she is one of the best but underrated Spanish actresses today. Lluís Homar was brilliant, in my opinion, and also the little girl.

    I was mixed about Paddy Considine. I think he is a good actor but next to Gary Oldman, he was less interesting. In "Cinderella man" with Russel Crowe, he was excellent and also in "In America," but in this movie, he was only interesting when he was not in a scene with Gary Oldman but in scenes with the other actors, he steals every scene. I think that shows how strong Gary Oldman is that brilliant actors like Considine seem to fade next to him.

    This movie is the first English language movie for Virginie Ledoyen since "The Beach" and I think it is fair to say that she will always be known as the girl from "The Beach" because she is a bland and boring actress. Even in french films she is dull because she lacks the range that other actresses her age have. In this movie, she is not at all convincing as her character. She "acts" better in her 30-second adverts for L'Oréal.

    The biggest problem of this movie is the writing and the directing. Serra and his co-writer lack the skill in writing a coherent and original scénario. Stealing from other movies was a bad idea. There should have been more development in this to make it a real movie. Also, Serra uses the camera techniques of 70's directors which is OK at first but when he does this all the time it is distracting and does not serve any purpose except style. We all know it is set in the 70's but the directing should always be related to the story because style is cheap and easy and anyone who works only on style with no script should just direct commercials and music videos. Skip this movie and rent "Straw dogs" instead.
  • I enjoyed the movie last week at its Premiere in Madrid. It was very good. A very interesting piece of film art, where the picture is made of a good fusion of beautiful images, ominous silences, sparkling sounds, mature musics, good acting, rhythm, great photography, etc. A very good tension is achieved in the film and even though the story may be somehow known in the history of the movies (there are confessed prior references) is this time treated differently and with a bright eye which captures your eye and grasps your attention from the very beginning. All actors bright in the movie, specially Oldman and Homar, although all the cast is really convincing (mention also Ms. Ledoyen, Ms. Sánchez-Gijón and Mr. Considine).

    It is not a perfect work of art (art is as such impossible of perfection) but is a real work of art.

    For that reason, I cannot really understand (yet there may be a reason which may not be so difficult to explain, such as an explicit boycott) how so many people voted so low for this movie, ... and they did it even before it was officially released!! I hope now the public can make accurate and sincere voting without any particular economic interest or prejudice.

    I do really recommend it to all the people interested in good movies.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    While holidaying in the Basque region of Spain, two couples discover a child whose hands are severely misshapen. The child has been gravely mistreated, and, as a result, cannot communicate. The two couples reluctantly decide to rescue her and report her circumstances to the authorities. However, severe weather and the denseness of the forest surrounding their holiday home make it impossible for them to make a quick getaway. Soon, the local inhabitants become aware that the girl is missing, and they rightly suspect the holiday-makers of taking her. Suspicions and paranoia begin to fester, and it isn't long before violence erupts. The villagers demand the little girl's return, and her rescuers refuse to give her up. A deadly game of cat-and-mouse ensues, making a return to normalcy impossible for everyone involved.

    The premise for The Backwoods is an intriguing one. The idea of how quickly basic human instincts make situations spiral out of control, is nearly always used to good effect in movies. For any writer/director, this concept opens up a myriad of opportunities to shock, as well as to fascinate. This fact probably accounts for why this device is a much-overused set piece. Films of this genre, when well executed, are guaranteed, at the very least, cult-classic status (e.g., Deliverance and Straw Dogs). However, when poorly executed, the resultant films can resemble a confusing, farcical mess. Unfortunately, The Backwoods is an example of the latter.

    The Backwoods starts off well, trying to develop the main characters, before violence eventually erupts. However, what we have learned of their character in the initial scenes gives us little insight as to why the characters react as they do to the situation they are dealt. For example, Oldman's character, Paul, is the only one of the four main characters who is thoroughly determined to save the girl. At no time does he falter, even when he could save his life by telling the villagers where the disfigured girl is. This character trait does not hold true, because, up to this point, his character has appeared arrogant and overbearing, with little or no regard for those around him. Having said this, the four leads all give solid, believable performances, and, for the most part, cover up, rather than expose, the inconsistencies in their characters' nature.

    Apart from flaws in the development of central characters, this movie has other problems. First, the deformity that the little girl has seems too ludicrous to be believable. If you have ever seen Batman Returns, and you remember the misshapen hands that The Penguin had, you will get the idea. As a viewer, the fact that the little girl has "Penguin hands" makes it hard to take her plight seriously. And finally, the main reason why this movie is farcical rather than stimulating is the movie styles to which it chooses to pay homage. I can understand the stylish, 1970s-vibe it tries to recreate, and I can also appreciate the nods directed toward Peckinpah and Boorman. But, what I can't understand is why the writer and director chose to insert a Sergio Leone-style climactic scene. Up until the final scene, the movie has tried to be dark and thought-provoking. Up until the final moments it has tried to teach the audience something about the human psyche; it has failed miserably, but it has tried. And then, all of the sudden, ten minutes before the end, you have a man-on-man gunfight, reminiscent of a spaghetti western. This ultimate fight appears to be forced and is very much out of place. The only thing that links this final scene to what has preceded it, is the fact that the ultimate scene's outcome is as confusing and pointless as the rest of the movie.

    In short, The Backwoods is a jumbled mess, which is full of inconsistencies in character, plot, and style. The only factor that rescues The Backwoods from being a complete disaster are the proficient performances of its lead actors. If you want to watch a film that explores basic human instincts, why not try Magnolia Pictures', The Signal. You will find that film a lot more entertaining and a lot less confusing than this shambolic piece of film-making.
  • This was one of the movies I saw in Cannes last month during the film market (it was not part of the festival, which is different) and possibly the worst movie I've seen in a while.

    The trailer showed promise. The only reason I went to the screening was because of star Gary Oldman. After the movie ended, myself and my colleagues wondered out loud why Gary Oldman decided to do this empty, shallow movie which was full of clichés and obvious homages to Leone and movies like Deliverance that don't amount to much. A chance to play in Spanish maybe ? That is the only mystery we have in this movie : why did Gary Oldman do it ?

    The performances of most of the actors were good except for Virginie Ledoyen who still has not showed that she can play more than one style. I wished the producers had chosen a better actress who has depth and more chemistry with her co-stars. She was by far the weakest actor of the 5 main actors in this movie. Paddy Considine was good as her husband. I'm always impressed by Considine's performances and here he was the actor that gave the most impressive performance out of them all. Gary Oldman and Aitana Sanchez-Gijon were effective as the other married couple. Except for Homar, the rest of the supporting Spanish cast seemed like amateurs doing their first movie.

    This is a movie about incommunication and the effects, but unfortunately that theme never gets fully developed. Besides the performance of Considine, the only other good point of this movie is the cinematography.

    Everything else about this movie makes it more suitable for viewing as a direct-to-DVD instead of in the theatres. The people I work with did not buy the movie and no one in our company recommended it or felt it was worth it. I don't think Filmax sold it to anyone at the market. Oldman and Considine are good, but 2 good actors are not enough to save a bad film.

    I miss seeing Gary Oldman in good films and hope he makes smarter choices in the future. Now I will have to wait for the next Batman to see Oldman in a good film.
  • First, what's wrong with it. Aside from Cohen's wonderful song, the sound and music were poor and didn't add anything. The cinematography was not particularly inventive or inspiring.

    But still a 10.


    Okay you have to catch what this excellent writing is up to.

    The twist at the end is pure and righteous symmetry.

    It's about justice and revenge, an atypical and furious interpretation of right and wrong. It's got a piece of The Unforgiven about it.

    It posits that some things just can't be fixed, and that the penalty does often indeed involve even more suffering of the innocent.

    All the acting is excellent. The direction is excellent.

    The writing is difficult, twisted, demanding, and wonderful, hard to grasp at first, hard to at first grasp, even at the end. But within it's own pained logic of warfare, just.

    The heroic transformation is really spectacularly fierce in that the delivery of justice and punishment requires such a high price to be paid by the destroyed innocent, and the hero, that it at first doesn't even seem like justice.... but it sinks in, that it is.

    Sure, it has deliberate echos of Deliverance, but it's actually much more sinister and indirectly more disturbing, not just to personal safety, but to our perception of right and wrong, and justice, punishment, and revenge.

    It reminds me in some ways of Death and the Maiden.

    It could have almost been a stage piece.

    If it wasn't low budget and foreign, with non-U.S.-well-known writing and directing, and with higher "production values", it would have made big stink here.

    Or maybe not. Us Americans are often so dull about clear winning and losing, that they get lost in movies like this. Our loss.

    Oh, and I want to thank Gary Oldman for taking a shot at this. I wouldn't have known about it or seen it with him, and I thank him for roping me in!

    God only knows what great stuff I miss from not having the time to watch everything! I wish I could clone myself and have them watch it so, I would have reviews I could trust! ;)
  • yokurdan19 February 2007
    Finally a movie with all that 70's taste. Reminds me a mixture between Peckinpah, Friedkin and Yates. The fear sensation it's really well done, and Gary Oldman drives clean into Spanish, and into Spain... I've never listen anything before about Koldo Serra and for sure I'll keep contact with his cinema. Serra controls time like he's been always shooting with a camera since he was young. Tension is always looking for you in the middle of the deep forest were the characters are... Deep characters in weird land, real introvert feelings and nothing easy for people who likes to see typical Hollywood films. And with all this you have to think that is Koldo's first movie! Hard, strong, bright, scary work for your first time master!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I really don't see how people can have a problem with this film. It contains one of the best Oldman performances ever. Virginie Ledoyen and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón are not bad but it's clear they don't feel comfortable acting in English. Contrary to what the negative critics say, this film is frightening. You never know what's going to happen and the discovery of a locked up girl is horrible. There are also some creepy bits like when one of the girls notices that her underpants are missing after the swim. But the viewer at no point sees if anyone took them. What's also interesting is the relationship between the couples and the two men. Considine and Oldman have a cold friendship with Oldman being almost like a bully. Considine's bad marriage adds to the uneasy feeling throughout.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie just meanders around in the woods for awhile, much like the cast, and then ends.

    I like Gary Oldman and I have to admit the other actors did a good job. The movie was very well done, cinematically and directorialy, however, it just didn't go anywhere. And, at least for me, there were a few important points that needed a bit more explanation.

    Like why was the little girl locked up? It had something to do with her mother and someone having offended God, I think, but otherwise you just have to guess.

    And, what happened to Gary Oldman's dog?

    I found the characters hard to warm up to. I just didn't care what happened to any of them. I can't really recommend this as some sort of underrated masterpiece. It isn't.
  • Saw this at a film festival in Dublin recently and really enjoyed it. The film is an obvious homage to Peckinpah, right from the opening credits. I thought it was very well shot, the film looks great in widescreen photography. There is a nice ominous atmosphere captured by the director and a real 70's feel to the film. There is also a very good cast, it got me thinking, how did a small Spainsh film attract such good actors? The one complaint I would have is that the script was lacking a bit. The dialogue felt a bit forced, almost as it if was translated from Spanish and then when spoken in English it seemed to be missing something in the translation. It just did not come across as believable at times. On the whole though there were far more positives than negatives and I would recommend this film to fans of genre cinema
  • A young married couple at the end of the 1970s, who come to visit a friend played by Gary Oldman who now lives in the Basque region because he has married a woman from there.Their tranquil summer turns to horror when they discover a girl with horribly mutilated hands hidden in the forest.They try to help her by taking her away from the home in which she is locked,but the local villagers,who have to protect the girl start a deadly pursuit in the forest they know much better than the visitors.This pretty intense Spanish survival thriller owes a lot to Sam Peckinpah's masterpiece "Straw Dogs" and John Boorman's "Deliverance".As the film's violence spirals further and further out of control,the distinction between hunter and prey becomes wildly confused.The pace is slow,but the acting is great and the violence is harsh.Give it a look.
  • Compared to Straw Dogs or Deliverance, this thriller set in the Basque region of Spain adds that local charm that makes it worth watching.

    It features Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight, Harry Potter) and Virginie Ledoyen (8 Women, The Valet), and that's reason enough to watch. Add Aitana Sánchez-Gijón (The Machinist, The Whore and the Whale) and Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz), and you should have a great movie. There are other very good actors (Lluís Homar, Andrés Gertrúdix, Álex Angulo) familiar to those who watch Spanish movies, and they add immensely to the pleasure.

    They find a little girl (Yaiza Esteve) locked in a cabin in the woods with lobster claw syndrome. They take her to help and immediately enrage the locals.

    During the hunt for the girl, one of the locals decides he wants some time with Ledoyen, but he didn't count on Norman (Considine) possessing some cajones. He couldn't shoot a rabbit, but you don't mess with his wife.

    A lot died before the chase through the woods was over.

    Featuring the great music of Leonard Cohen.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    a lot of bad reviews on here for what is a well-directed suspenseful old fashioned horror- thriller. Maybe, people needed a commentary to explain to them what was going on and even though the ending was a little ambiguous, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Gary Oldman continues to surprise and amaze me, this was actually the first time I had heard him in his native tongue since "nil by mouth" as he is always doing a range of accents but then he broke out in perfect Spanish, another string to his bow. As many have already said, this is a cross between deliverance and the hills have eyes in the basque country. Its a story about backward locals, years of possible inbreeding and ancient cultural traditions that foreigners from more civilized parts don't comprehend and regrettably decide to take the matter into their own hands. My one gripe is the fate of gary oldman, he was the dominant character in the movie, so its crucial to know if he did die or not, while its assumed he did, if so, the way he surrendered was completely out of character to what we had seen in the previous hour. This aside, All the native actors were superb and the taut direction kept the suspense going, there was no need for any Hollywood effects or an OTT music score, the backdrop and the incessant rainfall did the job, sometimes the best way of doing things are the simplest.
  • Backwoods is one of those movies capable of attracting the viewer without needing extraordinary special effects, on the contrary, simply creating a truly suspenseful sequence of events, set in a frightening atmosphere. The choice of an abandoned rural home in the Basque forest, where the slow movements of the characters are followed by a distanced camera, giving the idea there's someone watching them from a distance, proves really effective. The plot in itself is rather simple, and with no plot twists, except in the finale, open to different interpretations. On the whole, everything sounds very minimal, however what keeps the viewer attached to the screen is the solid build-up of an authentic thrilling feeling, where setting and shooting are wisely employed. The cohesive and good cast also help build the gripping atmosphere till the end, the characters are well developed and their interaction intelligently explored. The only flaw: I watched the parts spoken in Spanish without subtitles which made me lose some significant dialogues. Apart from this, a wise opera prima by the director Koldo Serra, proving that the mechanisms of fear are always the same and that we need very little to feel scared.
  • For speaking Spanish, a great effort, and a good performance. He is a very versatile actor. I, too, thought that the creepy factor of the movie was going to rest on the child and her situation but I found that the fear was instilled by putting these men in a foreign town and in a situation out of control.

    The movie opens with a song about "war" and I think this feeling predominated in the movie. I also found creepy the transformation of the more docile character (Paul's friend)

    I also found that although the movie repeated some stereotypes from other scary movies, it was done in a sober manner. The performances (of the men specially) were good and credible. Maybe we were expecting a more "chilling" movie, but I took it for what it seems to be: a war among men, natives and foreigners, the primal versus a more civilized attitude but at the end: all primal.
  • denis88827 September 2008
    Wo, what a real dark, gloomy and very heavy film! I never thought that could be so dark and so gloomy on so many aspects. The film where great Gary Oldman surely shines starts as a typical family drama and goes on rather smoothly and even boring to some extent but then becomes so harsh and so bloody that a jaw drops. Utterly simple plot is quite logical here and it serves the main idea well. The terribly looking incest-stricken locals are a real frightening bunch and the deaths are so tragic here that a heavy feeling never leaves the heart. That heavy rain at the end serves another classic role of sweeping all past sins away...but even apart from clichés it still is a very decent movie
  • A brilliant film, very well structured, that effectively explores the levels of so-called "manhood" and the deepness of the human sins. Serra has a very good pulse, and his characters are very well defined.

    Not a horror film in the traditional sense, this movie follow the Peckinpah-straw-brick-road, a road that many followed in the past but none successfully. "The Backwoods" is nonetheless an good piece of cinema. Gary Oldman is as good as always and Lluis Homar is a great revelation, he is called to do greater movies in the future. The third act is brilliant, specially the last scene under the rain, but there is a sense of anti-climax when none of the main characters find out his moral premise.

    However, "The Backwoods" lacks of a better script (and this is a common sin in Spanish cinema) so you have a very good director driving a car that takes you nowhere. A young director to follow in the future.
  • Oh say it ain't so, Gary Oldman! Having been a fairly big fan of Mr. Oldman (even having enjoyed his performance as Zorg in THE FIFTH ELEMENT), I've come to expect a certain level of entertainment from his film choices. Not so here.

    Gary Oldman (HARRY POTTER films) stars as Paul, an Englishman on holiday in Spain's backwoods with his wife and another couple when they run afoul of the locals who are hiding a young girl away in what seems to be sickening conditions (they find her tied by the ankle in a dilapidated home drinking from a dog bowl). "Saving" the girl, they bring her back to their distant cabin and learn that some yocal-locals are looking for her ...and their carrying rifles.

    Hiding her away, the English vacationers quickly learn that the nearby township will do whatever necessary to retrieve her ...including raping or shooting anyone who gets in their way.

    Probably the biggest issue with this film is that it has no purpose, and flings about in uncertainty up to and beyond its horrible ending. It is never explained why the girl is tied up in the first place (she does act like an animal and the audience is left wondering if she were some sort of mentally handicapped kid or a hybrid human-canine, or even a werewolf ...but none of these are ever explored in any depth).

    The acting is so over-the-top that I often wondered if the scenes were supposed to be taken seriously or were designed for laughs.

    Regardless as to intentions, THE BACKWOODS should remain on the extreme "back shelf" of all DVD rental stores ...if stocked at all!
  • A small thriller starring Gary Oldman and Paddy Considine sounded too good to be true when I chanced upon it recently and unfortunately it is.

    Two couples on a Spanish holiday chance upon an imprisoned girl in an abandoned house, take her in and then find trouble from the locals when they find they have taken her.

    The opening half hour is very tedious and better casting of the female characters would have been preferable as the relationships between the two couples just didn't ring true. Even Gary Oldman and Paddy Considine are pretty lacklustre. Once the girl was found I did expect things to liven up but sadly it clumsily plods on at a sedate pace with random acts of savagery thrown in. There was surprisingly an almost total lack of tension which bearing in mind the plot is pretty unforgivable.

    This is nicely filmed but is a very disjointed and disappointing effort and not one I would recommend.
  • cynraven8 February 2018
    Atmospheric non-thriller. It has a strong cast but the script seems uncertain of what it wants to be and it requires a strong suspension of disbelief.

    One must believe that men will resort to rape and murder with little provocation and that women will cower and cringe in all situations. I won't even go into the litany of other trite stereotypes but will summarize by saying that there are no surprises in the movie.

    It's sad to see such a waste of potential here as the film could have been so much better if it had been willing to go in a new direction at any point, instead of strictly rehashing the well-worn back roads in these backwoods.

    Ah, well...
  • Two couples—Paul and Isabel (Gary Oldman and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón) and Norman and Lucy (Paddy Considine and Virginie Ledoyen)—travel to a remote region of Northern Spain for a relaxing break and a spot of hunting (the guys having somehow brought a pair of shotguns with them through customs), but instead they incur the wrath of locals after freeing a young girl they find chained up in a run-down cabin.

    The obvious inspirations for this rural survival thriller set in the late 70s are Deliverance and Straw Dogs (with Ledoyen in the Susan George role, teasing the drooling locals), although there are striking similarities to countless other examples of the backwoods genre, old and new. One might expect the presence of acting heavyweights Oldman and Considine to compensate somewhat for the derivative nature of the script, but even class performers such as they can do very little with what amounts to a collection of tired clichés presented with little flair or imagination.

    The Backwoods also suffers from awkward performances from the leading ladies (this may be because neither actress speaks English as their first language), poor pacing, a lack of genuinely disturbing violence (surely a prerequisite of the genre), and a weak denouement that leaves the viewer feeling more than a little cheated.
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