Dir: Simeon Halligan
Star: Holly Weston, Sadie Pickering, Stephen Walters, Jonathan Readwin

A group of five young people set out on a camping trip, hoping to film whatever is behind a series of apparently animal attacks in North Wales. They soon become the target rather than the hunters, and discover that it's definitely not the rogue stray dog claimed by the local authorities are saying, but something a good deal more malevolent, hiding out in a deserted boarding-school. It's an interesting premise, pushing the "rural nightmare" genre in a somewhat different direction, but the end results are dire, in just about every conceivable area, and I was delighted to see the end-credits rolling. The five central characters in question are largely unlikeable, even Sophie (Weston), the one on whom things centre, who has a dark secret in her past that we had already worked out after the opening scene. Watching them interact, with dialogue which presumably read a great deal better on the page than it sounds coming out of the characters' mouths, was like having red-hot needless driven into my eyes. These are exactly the kind of people I left Britain to escape.

When they are split up, shut up, and the film focuses in a more straightforward fashion on the struggles of Sophie to survive, it does improve. Perhaps the best sequences are the simple ones depicting her multiple attempts to escape from a locked room in which she has been placed, using only the objects at her disposal. It feels somewhat like a computer game, but is at least interesting to follow. However, the more we learn about what exactly it is that's menacing her, the more the storyline falls apart, even with a priest who shows up (in the middle of nowhere, at the most convenient moment imaginable) to fill in blanks that might have been better off left empty. By the time we reach the not-so grand finale, all semblance of credibility has evaporated, and I was simply looking towards the screen with a vacant expression, rather than actually "watching" the movie. I generally have a high tolerance for British genre movies, but even I can't find much worth complementing here.

[March 2010]

Nothing worse than getting
stuck with a splinter
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