After making most Hollywood directors A list, sometimes it's nice to see an actor go back to his or her roots - remember where they came from kind of thing. Daniel Craig does it regularly, Christian Bale does it quite often - even Kevin Spacey dips his toes on the odd occasion. I'm talking about leaving the bright lights and glamour of tinsel town behind and making a film for an independent company. We all know how important to film making these grass roots companies are - and without the likes of those I've named above - and others like them, a lot of the companies would die out without the finances a big name brings with it.
Probably top of that grass root actors list is none other than Gary Oldman. Having made it big in films like The Fifth element and the forthcoming The Dark Knight, the man from New Cross goes all independent on us as he plays Paul in Koldo Serra's The Backwoods
Paul owns a house in the backwoods in Spain. He decides to take his girlfriend Lucy (played by Virginie Ledoyen), his mate Norman and his girlfriend Isabel (played by Paddy Considine and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón)
On route, they decide to pull over at a bar for some light refreshment. As they walk into the bar, in typical American Werewolf... fashion, the place falls silent and everybody stares. To break the ice, Paul shows his command of the Spanish language by ordering a round of drinks for the house. Norman's girlfriend brings unwanted attention on herself from a strange local when she cools herself in the fountain and her clothes become see through...
They arrive at the house in the middle of the night, having ignored local advice to leave their Rover 2000 behind and just take the 4 x 4. After a long and restless night, Paul takes Norman hunting. It's here that they come across an old house - they investigate and find a padlocked door. Behind the door is a young girl chained to the wall. They rescue the youngster and take her back to the house. Here they discover that the girl can't speak and is devoid of etiquette and manners.
They decide to take the girl to the police in the next town - but it's too late. The locals have discovered that the girl is missing and the hunt is on to get her back - and to escape the mob from the backwoods...
All sounds rather good doesn't it? But I'm afraid it isn't...there are so many plot holes, I found myself trawling the internet trying to find the meaning of the film. And it seems I'm not the only one as different review sites come up with different answers.
There are a lot of shots of the moon during the many night scenes, especially in the ones involving the young girl - so I guessed werewolf. I sat and waited for the young lady to sprout fur and fangs - but to no avail. If it is werewolf, it's certainly not obvious from watching the film - my advice to you (if you decide to watch the film after this review) is do not trawl the internet for the answer...many of the reviews add things that simply aren't there like the girl is deformed, or she was found amongst dogs...neither of which are true. My guess after watching the film is incest...
The director is relatively young and is probably unknown outside of his native Spain. He fails miserably to get a performance out his leading man. This is NOT Gary Oldmans finest hour. The film plods along at an incredibly slow pace and a lot of it is in Spanish with English subs (Including a lot of Spanish spoken by Oldman). The good thing is that the plot is wafer thin and you never lose your way. It gets very bloody and gory towards the end and I got the impression that had this film been made thirty years ago, it would have had Hammer stamped all over it. Maybe they could have done a better job because as it is, I would have a hard time recommending The Backwoods to anybody.
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