Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 1st, 2008
Call it Deliverance meets Texas Chain Saw Massacre by way of Straw Dogs. Really that’s the best way I can describe this incredibly derivative film starring Gary Oldman. It’s Summer in 1978 and two couples are making their way to an isolated vacation house in the woods. The house is the ancestral home for Paul. The four are traveling from
The film has a decidedly European style. Of course, that’s because it is very much a European film. The original title of the film is Bosque de Sombras. The four leads are a multinational group. Oldman is from
The Backwoods is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The wonderful Spanish locations are a good subject for the camera and are photographed with some artful touches that make this a nice picture to see. There’s plenty of detail to be found. Black levels are strong. Colors are often a little washed out and there is a bit of a sepia tone to the overall look of the film. The color correction allows for an actually deeper green to the trees making the forest feel more remote than it actually was. Certainly, a visually pleasing film, if that’s all you really want. There is a strange blemish at almost exactly 56:00 into the film. The subtitles of the Spanish dialog appears to have a digital breakup so that you can’t read it. You’ll need to speak Spanish to understand that line. If I cared enough about it I’d appeal to you Spanish speakers out there to tell me what was said. That, of course, would be requiring you to actually watch this movie. I just couldn’t ask that of anybody.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track did a marvelous job of creating atmosphere. The surrounds were put to good use without overdoing it. You are able to experience the wide sound field of a vast forest and yet still have bouts of claustrophobia when the characters feel cornered. The rain storm was brilliantly spread over the surrounds that it felt remarkably real. Again, the film shows terrific technical skills but the material never lives up to the extraordinary presentation.
It took over two years for this film to find a distributorship deal before Lionsgate finally took on the job. It’s not that the film is badly done that makes it such a commercial risk. The film just lacks enough drive to keep the average filmgoer’s attention. It’s the kind of film that you can admire for its wonderful technique but once it’s over you find it overall to be completely unremarkable. This is very much a film festival kind of movie that has little chance of leaving any lasting impressions. There are many reasons you might be thinking about getting this one. Gary Oldman is a terrific actor and seldom puts in a less than stellar performance. The plot sounds interesting, unfortunately, it sounds far more interesting than it actually is. That’s a lot to think about, so, let me do you a favor here. Don’t touch this one. “Don’t think. Let me think for the both of us”.