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BACKWOODS (2020)

Directed by Thomas Smith
Written by Thomas Smith, Erin Lilley
Starring Isabella Alberti, Michael Anthony Bagozzi, Matthew McCoy, Angelina Alberti, Jeremy Sande, Erin Lilley, Tahj Vaughans, Elliot Hamilton, and Scott Alan Warner as the Hangman!
Find out more about this film here!!

Head cheerleader Molly (Isabella Alberti) is dating star footballer Hunter (Matthew McCoy), but has a soft spot for the waterboy and longtime friend Noah (Michael Anthony Bagozzi), so she invites the outcast to a party. This party just so happens to be taking place in the middle of a woods that was once the hunting grounds of an urban legend of the Hangman. When it seems someone has drugged Molly at the party, Noah tries to help her, but ends up getting into a fight with Hunter. Fleeing into the woods, the trio end up running into the Hangman who is very much alive and deadly.

BACKWOODS is extremely low budget, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth checking out. The story is very ambitious, as it flips back and forth through the narrative, playing with our expectations and going for some unpredictable character turns. The film opens with Molly waking up in a trunk and then backpedals, allowing us a chance to get to know the players of this story. It’s a way to spice up what normally would be a somewhat predictable story and is somewhat successful in doing so. Still, I think the flipping back and forth in time gets to be a little extraneous the longer it goes on, especially when it becomes quite predictable as to what is going on. Nevertheless, the choice to structure the story in this way does make for an original way of telling a story, even if some of the twists don’t really come off as shocking as this film wants them to be.

I also liked the look of our Hangman (played by Scott Alan Warner). The mask and hand effects are pretty cool, even though the head appliance is pretty obviously a mask and doesn’t really bend in the right places. This becomes more evident the longer the camera lingers on the Hangman and unfortunately, filmmaker Thomas Smith lingers on him a lot. I think a little less screen time for the monster might have heightened the menace. He does prove to be quite menacing using all kinds of weaponry (including shotguns) and traps, and has a pretty strange life he leads out in his desolate cabin in the woods.

Isabella Alberti and Michael Anthony Bagozzi are the two acting standouts in BACKWOODS. Most of the cast suffer from low budget local casting syndrome where most of the cast is made up of friends and volunteers. Still, Alberti and Bagozzi are likable in the two lead roles, especially when they banter back and forth to each other.

BACKWOODS shoots for the moon often and hits some of the time. I think occasionally it might think it’s more clever than it is, but still, it delivers some fun twists and a solid monster. What else would you want from a low fi backwoods slasher flick?

Click here for the trailer!!