I'm not sure if it's still the case but Wilderness is one of those movies I always spotted in the bargain bin section of any shop selling DVDs. Which is why I bought it. It sat on my shelf for many years, and I could never work up the enthusiasm to actually watch the thing. The reason? Well, I'd been burned some time ago by certain words - "Wes Craven presents" (I know, I know, I should have known better) - and ended up watching some piece of dross called The Breed. The Breed was another movie from 2006 about young people in an isolated location being threatened with killer dogs. The main difference between these two movies, as far as I could see, is that one was American and one was British. Thankfully, once I worked up the nerve to give it a go, the other main difference is that Wilderness is a much better movie.
Sean Pertwee is the man in charge of a group of juvenile delinquents who are forced to spend some time on what is alleged to be an uninhabited island. They soon find that there is another group of youngsters camping there (some girls, watched over by a tough woman named Louise). There's also at least one other person on the island. Oh, and a pack of vicious dogs that will happily chow down on anyone they catch. Can the group stop fighting among themselves long enough to fight off their new enemy?
The second feature film from director Michael J. Bassett (who started off strong with the impressive and enjoyable Deathwatch), Wilderness has enough in the mix to make it a fun time-waster for horror fans, even if the script, a first from Dario Poloni (who only has this and the superior Black Death in his writing credits, at this moment), is never as strong as it could be. There are actually a lot of positives: the death of a character that sets off the main events is well done, the antagonistic protagonists are all fairly memorable, some decent gore, the cast. Unfortunately, they're undermined by the elements that are either underdeveloped (some more backstory for at least one of the main characters would have been appreciated) or just a bit too predictable, especially during the second half.
Although he's the main authority figure, and as enjoyable as ever, Pertwee isn't the lead. That spot is reserved for Toby Kebbell, playing a tough lad who doesn't seem as bad as some of the others but has no qualms about doing whatever needs done to survive. It's far from Kebbell's best work, but he brings his usual level of considerable talent to the role. Stephen Wight is good value as the most unpleasant of the group, Luke Neal is also good, as his less unpleasant friend, Karly Greene, and Lenora Crichlow both do fine in their roles, and Alex Reid does well in the role of Louise, although it's a shame she doesn't have even more screentime. It's also worth mentioning the dogs, who do a very good job of looking vicious and able to tear people apart into bite-sized meaty chunks.
Not great, not terrible, but Wilderness is easily the best of the 2006 movies about people being terrorised by killer dogs in an isolated location. And you can quote me on that.
You can pick up the DVD here.
Americans can pick it up here.