Molly (Isabella Alberti) is a beautiful high school cheerleader that all the boys want. She starts to get close to Noah (Michael Anthony Bagozzi), the team’s waterboy and they end up going to a party to blow off some steam. Hunter (Matthew McCoy) is your typical high school football jock who only thinks about himself and is surrounded by friends who buy into the toxic masculinity that he does.
However, he has a soft spot for Molly as well and when Molly finds herself bound in the boot of a car after falling unconscious, she starts to think that Hunter may have taken advantage of her in her drunken state. Molly’s problems are about to get a whole lot worse though when she’s kidnapped by the local urban legend, The Hangman.
Backwoods is a horror movie directed and co written by Thomas Smith and Erin Lilley. Billed as a slasher for the #MeToo era, there’s definitely something to be said in a fresh and original way about a murderous psychopath who kidnaps cheerleaders.
The problem is that with Backwoods’ script and cast make it feel more like a production made by a traveling theatre group, visiting schools to warn them about the dangers of underage drinking and toxic masculinity, rather than something more nuanced.
Although the cast try their best, the moments where the audience are supposed to suspect that certain characters may be evil are signposted so clearly that it would take an idiot to not realise what the movie wanted its audience to feel. Plus, the casting of Noah and Hunter is a mistake because they unfortunately look so similar that it’s hard to tell them apart.
Then movie does eventually get into the horror portion of the script, but it leans heavily on familiar tropes seen in many horror movies before. So much so in fact, that the audience may feel that Molly is never truly in danger as her menacing villain is just a man in a set of overly exaggerated prosthetics.
However much Backwoods wanted to do something current and topical with its premise, unfortunately it fails. With an all too familiar set of horror cliches, any deeper meaning is undermined and its abrupt ending makes it feel like it missed the point.
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