Wild Country (2005)

MAY 26, 2010


Sometimes my only reason for wanting to watch a movie is that it has a short running time. Wild Country didn’t sound particularly great, but at 72 minutes I knew that even if it was terrible, it wouldn’t be time-consuming, and since I’m still not all caught up on stuff stemming from the 3 days I spent at the Weekend of Horrors and related activities, short movies are much appreciated.

Luckily, the movie wasn’t all that bad, either. If I had to guess, I’d say that writer/director Craig Strachan didn’t have a lot of money and wanted to show what he could do, but was either too ambitious or too “over” budgeted for a short film, as Wild Country is basically plotless - a werewolf chases after a group of kids, and that’s about it. No backstory (yay!), no 3rd act twists (though the final scene has one), hell, they don’t even really have any conflict amongst themselves in the group - just yesterday I asked for a group of nice folks for once, and today I get one.

Oddly enough, our main girl is the least likable, though she at least has SOME excuse - when the movie starts she is giving birth to a child that will be handed over to adopted parents, as she is obviously too young to raise it herself. She’s surly with the priest, her mom, and even some of her friends, but they’re all pretty nice to her in return, and cordial with each other (even the two alpha males of the group never seem to bicker or metaphorically compare penis sizes, as many of their peers often do). Yes, we actually have a horror movie where the monster is the only source of unpleasantness. What a concept!

Now I said werewolf, but it’s sort of a combination of one with a boar and a giant rat (I kept thinking of the ROUSs from The Princess Bride. I’m not sure if this was an intentional approach to create a hybrid monster instead of a generic werewolf, or if the creature designer was just a really goofy guy. Or maybe the synopsis just plain got it wrong, I dunno. It certainly doesn’t follow any traditional werewolf rules (it doesn’t seem to have a human form, and it keeps stalking them during the daytime), so maybe it IS a giant boar/rat/wolf/bear/thing.

Well, whatever it is, it’s at least REAL. Apart from a goofy epilogue and maybe a shot or two here and there, the monster is definitely a real thing that they had on set, either a puppet or an animatronic or a guy in a suit, or a combination of all three. Its shape seems to differ depending on how its being used, but whatever - I’ll take slightly sloppy puppet work over ANY form of CGI any day of the week. And while a couple of kills (including a very significant one) are disappointingly off-screen, Strachan makes up for it with the others, including a kick-ass scene where the monster bites a huge chunk out of a guy’s side. It’s very messy and awesome.

It also looks good for a digital source (and Netflix followed suit with a nice HD transfer - a very rare occurrence). Night and day scenes are equally well lit and defined, with none of the usual washed out or murky looks to anything. The audio, on the other hand, leaves a bit to be desired - not only are the accents borderline impenetrable at times (we need to add subtitles to instant viewing), but it’s also a bit uneven; I would turn it up to hear dialogue and then get blown out by a music cue or whatever.

Not sure I dug the ending, however. The IDEA is fine, but the execution is a bit abrupt and somewhat botched (when exactly did the person turn?). And since, as I have mentioned, most of the werewolf rules aren’t really being followed, I have to wonder why they’d use other rules to base their ending around. If a vampire is impervious to garlic and stakes through the heart, then a cross shouldn’t work either, you know? And if it IS a new monster, then why skip over an explanation for what it is and let everyone just assume it’s a werewolf? Kind of weird.

Then again maybe I missed something due to the accents and shitty audio.

Regardless, it’s a fast paced, gory-enough romp, and the insistence on using real world elements instead of CGI deserves the highest lauds one could give. I look forward to whatever Strachan does next (if anything - the movie is five years old and he has nothing listed as in development on the IMDb), I just hope the story is as meaty as his visuals when that film comes.

What say you?

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