Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
April 1st, 2018

Wild Country

Wild Country
Directed by Craig Strachan
Written by Craig Strachan
Starring Samantha Shields, Martin Compston, Peter Capaldi, Kevin Quinn
Produced by Ros Borland
72 mins

The import drive continues as Lions Gate brings us the fairly decent Wild Country, a movie that proves that the Sawney Bean story still has some legs.

This time, we follow recent teen mom Kelly as she goes off on a camping trip in the woods with her friends. Now, perhaps you're wondering what kind of mother would possibly let her kid, who just delivered a baby of her own (which she gave up for adoption), go on a camping trip with friends, including the guy who knocked her up in the first place. Well, it's okay! It's a YOUTH GROUP trip! Sponsored by the church...led by a priest...who'll be banging some chick by the end of the movie. Oh wow. And it'll only get weirder when the teenagers camping in the woods run afoul of...well...they keep calling it a "wolf", but the thing looks like some kind of mutant warthog.

So like I said, the Sawney Bean story still has some legs; they'll quote it here in Wild Country, of course, but it also comes up as the basis of The Hills Have Eyes. And will show up again in the godawful Asylum film Hillside Cannibals. And it's not much more than a throwaway around here, especially by the time the wolf-pig things show up. There may be a connection--I won't tell because it spoilers the ending--but it's of the most tenuous sort.

This is one of those rare movies where the shortened run time--it's only seventy-two minutes--actually works for it. They've compressed everything and made it a very rapid-paced movie, allowing the shocks and the kills and the confrontations with bizarre mutants to come fast and regular. Even if it turns out you DON'T like it, you'll still have only lost about an hour.

Don't look for great depth of plot here, but instead, look for a fast, fun movie that'll do its level best to keep you interested with both big plot and small twists.

The ending includes a fairly clever twist that relates back to a very easily missed point a good ways back, so pay attention and keep a sharp eye out.

The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, a behind the scenes featurette, and trailers for Punisher: War Zone, Transporter 3, The Spirit, Chill, Kemper: The Co-Ed Killer, and Werewolf Hunter: The Legend of Romasanta.

All in all, Wild Country can never be called a bad movie. It's too short to give you that feeling of wasted time even if you don't like it. It's fast, it's clean, it's fairly watchable, and these days that's not bad by half.

20 Years Later

20 Years Later
Directed by Jim Torres
Written by Jim Torres, Ron Harris
Starring Azura Skye, Joshua Leonard, Nathan Baesel, Reg E. Cathey
Produced by Derek Thornton, D. Scott Lumpkin, Donna Brower, Anthony Balch
95 mins

20 Years Later is one of those movies where I can't shake the feeling like I walked into the middle of the film even though I clearly started at the beginning.

The plot, which I'm having a terribly difficult time following, is about a woman who gets pregnant just after nuclear war turns America into a smoking ruin in the grandest Capital Wasteland style. No mention is made of what country did it or who we turned into rubble just afterward, and you know we did, even IF we were attacked first. Anyway, the woman in question has some bizarre family issues, and is being pursued by what appears to be a random lunatic who wants her baby for some reason.

No, I'm completely lost. It's like watching two separate movies that just happen to have the same characters, the problem is that one movie is good and the other one is complete garbage. I spent so much time just literally baffled. There would be parts that would pull me in, and get me interested, and keep me watching, and then all of a sudden we'd switch gears to some random building somewhere full of what I can only guess was crackheads. I'd be watching the cave people get along with each other, and make the blue glass tree, and set up their radio station and all like that, and then boom! It's back to what I can only describe as the Raider camp who are walking around a firepit and watching a spider make a web.

The worst of it is that I love a good post-Apocalyptic epic just as much as the next guy, if not more so. Survival horror is a personal favorite subgenre. I lost maybe two weeks to Fallout 3 and I haven't even tried Operation: Anchorage yet. I'm desperately looking forward to when The Pitt comes out.

But 20 Years, that was just beyond me.

The ending features some kind of attempt to tie together more loose ends than a plate of linguini, but just can't quite seem to pull it off without being even more confusing and a bit contrived in the process.

All in all, I tried to like this one, really I did, and there are occasional moments of brightness to this, but at the end of the day I just can't get behind it.