Overall Grade: (D+)
A very intense and realistic feeling film that had some very suspenseful as well as cringe-worthy moments only after, a very very slow build-up.
A couple accustomed to the city-life venture out into the wilderness for what is planned as a romantic camping weekend away from the hectic and loud life in the city. Their relaxing venture in to the quiet forest is short when they realize they are being tracked and hunted by a massive black bear.
This film came with the ‘based on true events’ moniker and with that said and given how often this can mean very little, I will take it into account. My first and largest complaint about this story was the decisions made my the character of Alex.
From forgetting his hatchet twice, not taking a map, repeatedly leaving his girlfriend alone and not telling her about the bear tracks, his choices were horrendous. Whether or not this was true to the events I do not know but with the decisions he made along the way it had to either be, bad writing, or holding true to what actually happened. I hope it was the latter.
Regardless of the main character virtually asking for trouble out in the wilderness, he was clearly not ready to transverse, let alone bring a first time camper into the terrain. All of this kept bringing the word implausible to my mind as I watched. There were however a collection of suspenseful moments that kept this movie from being a bust. The beautiful landscape was perfectly captured with solid camerawork. There were some nice sweeping shots to show the vastness of the wilderness the characters were in, and with nice lighting and choices in times of day the ominous feel of the forest is never lost.
On the down side there was a long lull in the early to middle of the film. It seemed like an eternity as the script focuses on the couple, passing the time with really useless dialogue that does nothing to build the characters nor develop their relationship dynamic.
It just allows time to watch more of the bad choices from the main character that gives off an unrealistic feel and does not help to generate any vested interest in the Alex character. Throughout the boring middle of the film you sit and wait patiently for the bear to finally make a presence in the story which seems to take forever.
Once the massive bear does appear there is not much film left leaving you to realize all the mindless conversations between the two leading up, was useless and for no real point. A strong aspect of this movie however is without question the realism of the attacks. One the bear does begin to stalk and attack the campers the suspense is instantly elevated as well as your attention.
What most films leave for the imagination this one gives you with graphic realism and excellent use of make-up and special-effects. The attacks are brutal and emotionally uncomfortable at times. With shuttering and jittery camera movements during the attacks you really feel pulled into the chaos and bloody carnage and for that aspect this film delivered all the tension it intended.
The third-act does have a lot of suspense and a sudden fast pace that pull you from the slouch you find yourself in after and excruciatingly slow first hour. A positive feeling is that after the final act closes you can at least feel as if you didn’t sit through it all for nothing. The gritty fight for survival in this one was high (once it started) and for that, this one is worth a one-time viewing.