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TIFF 2014 Review: Backcountry

Forget everything that you read or hear about Adam MacDonald’s debut feature-length film Backcountry. Claiming to be based on a true story, this film is, at its heart, a drama about a failing relationship for a young couple, Jenn and Alex, (Missy Peregrym and Jeff Roop). This difficulty that Jenn and Alex face is exacerbated by a trip to Backcountry, (campers, you may want to take a deep breath at this point), and a chance meeting with an Irish stranger Brad, (Eric Balfour) who may know more than he is letting on.

Backcountry is a difficult film to experience, and not only because it so deftly transcends genres, (and seems to both send up and adhere to the forms). What begins as a lighthearted journey into the wilderness, (the opening title sequence is particularly humorous), quickly becomes disheartening and, quite frankly, uncomfortable, during a crucial moment of hazy recollection. There is a sense of crushing heartbreaking pain. Jenn and Alex are good for each other, and yet in crucial ways, their relationship is truly at the crossroads. The final third of the film, though it veers slightly to the left of the path, maintains the film’s overarching metaphor of the perils of a relationship acting as an almost insurmountable cross to bear.

Full of terrifying obstacles obstructing the path, Backcountry is a necessary excursion, and well worth taking.

[star v=35]