Wild Country Review
There’s not a hell of a lot new that can be done with the werewolf genre, and not a lot of point in trying. Probably the best approach is to make it as non-cliched as possible, eliminating shots of full moons and talk of silver bullets. Wild Country is a low budget Scottish horror that attempts, with some success, to do just that.
Six weeks after giving her baby up for adoption, teenager Kelly Ann (Shields) and some pals head out to the countryside for a hike organised by Father Steve (Capaldi) where they’ll spend a night camping before rendezvousing with the priest the next day. Things are disrupted by the arrival of Lee (Compston), the father of Kelly’s baby whom she hasn’t seen since she became pregnant. With the atmosphere already strained enough for their night in the wilderness, the sound of a baby crying leads them to a ruined castle where they find the baby. But they also find a huge wolf, hungry and out for blood who begins to decimate the party. Can they make it to safety or is there something more sinister going on?
Clocking in at well under eighty minutes, Wild Country certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome, and the central premise is somewhat slim (don’t get eaten by the wolf). But, by invoking Scottish legend and folklore early on, writer and director Craig Strachan creates a menacing tone where anyone and anything can be a threat. The beast itself is certainly no masterpiece of design, but it’s used sparingly and remains most effective in shadow or as just as a pair of eyes in the darkness. And speaking of darkness, this isn’t Hollywood nighttime where everything has a convenient glow – this is dark dark and while it does sometimes make the action a little hard to follow, it increases the ominous atmosphere no end.
There’s plenty gore and spurting blood if that’s your thing, but much of the fun comes from the banter between the youngsters, particularly the abuse that Jamie Quinn has to put up with. Compston has been keeping a fairly low profile since his astonishing debut in Sweet Sixteen a couple of years back, but his work here suggests that he still has a terrific screen presence that places him head and shoulders above the other young cast members. And with Capaldi currently terrorising our small screens in The Thick Of It, hopefully the pair will bring enough of a recognition factor to allow audiences nationwide to discover this brisk little chiller.
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