ANDREW GARVEY takes a look at Scottish werewolf film, Wild Country
Short, clocking in at just under seventy minutes, Wild Country is a little known ‘troubled teenagers and werewolves’ film with a strong cast, a good script and a neat concept that (given its low budget limitations) make it one of the better British horror films of the last decade.
Peter Capaldi, best known to British horror fans as wacky archaeologist Angus Flint in Ken Russell’s outrageous 1988 schlocker Lair of the White Worm portrays a well-meaning, if not thoroughly observant priest who takes teenage mum Kelly Ann (a feisty Samantha Shields) and three other teenage tearaways into the highlands for a character building country hike. Helpfully telling them the story of Scottish horror legend Sawney Bean and his cannibal clan before dropping them off with instructions to meet the next day, the priest heads off to a comfy bed and breakfast.
Kelly Ann, whose newborn son has been recently adopted by a more ‘appropriate’ family isn’t best pleased when father of the baby, Lee (the talented Martin Compston) turns up, giving him an eye-wateringly realistic kick in the nuts.
As darkness falls the group bicker (in what to many non-natives will probably be too-thick Scottish accents) around the campfire until Kelly Ann is menaced in the bushes by a creepy shepherd they encountered earlier. Hearing a baby cry, Lee and Kelly Ann, now beginning to re-connect with each other, investigate, finding the dead shepherd and a helpless, abandoned baby boy. Their discovery places the frightened, argumentative group in serious danger.
Terrified , out in the open and enveloped in darkness that at times make it almost impossible for anyone, frustrated viewer included, to see what’s happening, the teenagers actually behave, and this is very important, like teenagers. Shouting obscenities and insults, arguing amongst themselves and throwing stones in the creature’s general direction, is exactly what they’d do.
For much of the film the werewolf is hidden with point-of-view shots and quick glimpses in the darkness. This is for the best since when revealed its a laughably crude, lumbering effort which lets everything else down but is at least understandable given the obviously limited funds available. It’s certainly not enough to ruin a film with such surprisingly good acting, characterisation and story. We even get a good ending, too, rounding off a very enjoyable little film.
ANDREW GARVEY lives in Staffordshire. He writes (infrequently) about mixed martial arts, professional wrestling, history, horror and folklore. Follow him on Twitter: @AMGarvey Check out more Andrew Garvey articles for the Spooky Isles here.