[THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!] Wilderness is a British-Irish horror film that suffers from what so many horror movies suffer from: predictability. The movie begins in a young offenders' institution that is housing some truly criminal youth. Just like any prison system, there is a dynamic in this institution and some of the youngsters are severely bullied. The viewer is privy to intense bullying that includes urine and solitary confinement. Of course, one of the bullied kids can’t handle it anymore and decides to off himself, which results in political members deciding the kids need to be taught a lesson. One prison officer, Jed (Sean Pertwee) takes on a handful of young offenders and travels to a remote island previously used for British Army training. As a viewer, I was getting excited at the possibility of a Battle Royale scenario or even a little bit of The Hunger Games. Unfortunately, the kids are there to build teamwork and cohesion by completing “trust” activities. Luckily, there is a killer on the island that makes the movie a bit more interesting. Wielding a pack of dogs and a crossbow, this killer is clearly smart and much more clever than all of the boys combined. Of course the boys do have a little help thanks to a logistical mix up. A group of girls who are also young offenders are on the island too. The boys are horny, the girls are horny, and there is a killer afoot. That pretty much sums up every horror movie done in the 80s.
This movie wasn’t all that bad until the entire plot was blown about 30 minutes in. Early on we realize the killer is affiliated with the kid who committed suicide. Therefore the remaining hour of the movie is kill, kill, hide, hide until I start to question whether the movie is actually three hours instead of an hour and a half. Character development is intriguing to an extent thanks to a couple of suave characters. Callum (Toby Kebbell) is a young offender that seems to have a heart, but he also places survival above anything else. He is the only offender there that has the ability to be both savage and somewhat sensitive at the same time. My favorite character, Louise (Alex Reid), is strikingly beautiful and has intense military experience, yet the director kills this individual off early on, which I never really recovered from. The other young offenders have their moments and there is a very interesting relationship between Steve (Stephen Wight) and Lewis (Luke Neal) that will continue till the end of the film. Even with these intriguing story lines and some good kill scenes, what was the point of it all? Why should I become invested in a bunch of prisoners being killed off by a man who is killing them off because he knows the kid that killed himself off early on? The point is, if there was ever a way for me to become emotionally attached to this film, where was I going to place my attachment? While there were some characters that weren’t just villainous children, I never was given any background or time to feel any love for that particular person. Some could argue that the viewer can root for the killer, since this person is killing in the love of someone else, but frankly killing off kids the way this individual does just shows me that he is more crazy than loveable.
Imagine a movie where you watch bad people kill bad people. A movie where you have no way to become attached or root for one particular character. In the end, all I see is pointless killings that I don’t care about whatsoever. Horror island receives a killer that may be trained in the ways of murder, but is clearly not a showman. Lets face it, horror is for the elite and to be elite you have to have that special something that compliments the ability to kill. Whether it is a mask, weapon, or something else, all the killers on horror island have their calling card.
Unfortunately, this killer forgot to wear his name tag when arriving, therefore let's just leave him alone and hopefully he will return to an island where he is much more appreciated.
If you liked Wilderness, you might also like Hell Night and Friday the 13th.