Friday, October 22, 2010

What Big Eyes You Have

Much as I like Netflix's instant watch service, the quality of the video leaves a lot to be desired when the picture is mostly dark. There's an AWFUL lot of pixelation. This colors my experience of the mostly enjoyable Scottish monster movie, Wild Country (2005, directed by Craig Strachan), an unapologetic B-movie with an agreeably cheesy man-in-a-suit monster. Much of the first half of the movie is almost illegible. Some reviews of the film's DVD suggest that it's not much better on disc. In any event, it certainly makes taking screen caps a challenge.

The set-up in this film is pretty simple: a quartet of teenagers (played unusually well by actual teens) goes on a hike in the Scottish highlands only to be stalked by a monster that picks them off one by one. Unusual for this kind of dead teenager movie, the kids don't do anything obviously stupid, nor are they punished for the kind of people they are. They seem like nice kids.

The motivating factor for the film's final girl is a baby given up for adoption at the behest of the local priest (who also sponsors their trip to the country). This rather explains the maternal theme that surfaces when our heroes discover a crying baby in the lair of the beast. The priest also gives a pretty good recounting of the Sawney Bean myth, given that the kids are hiking through "Sawney Bean country." It's a nice association, if not entirely apropos of the monster the film actually has. Still and all, I like it when a horror movie acknowledges its roots. I also like the way it takes potshots at the church, especially at the end, but don't mind me; I'm an irreligious mocker.

This isn't a complicated movie, really. It only runs 72 minutes, so it doesn't really have time for anything but plot. It has an admirable singlemindedness once it gets going. I also like the film's dogged reliance on practical effects, even when that reliance becomes a liability late in the movie. I've put a capture of my favorite of the film's special effects gags at the top. The film's lead, Samantha Shields, is surprisingly good, too, which grounds the film in a sympathy for the characters necessary to pull the whole thing off. It has a nice twist at the end, too, followed by Sam the Sham's "Little Red Riding Hood" over the closing credits (I wouldn't be surprised if the clearance rights for this song consumed the wolf's share of the movie's budget). It's not the best horror movie I've ever seen, but damned if I wasn't grinning at the end of it. Take that however you like.

Current Challenge tally:

Total Viewings: 22

First Time Viewings: 22

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