Survival is the name of the game in this 2006, cat and mouse, British/ Irish horror film. MARIE LOUISE BUSSY reviews Wilderness.
Title: Wilderness
Released: 11 August 2006
Director: Michael J. Bassett
Starring: Sean Pertwee (Jed), Alex Reid (Louise), Toby Kebbell (Callum), Stephen Wight (Steve)
Wilderness opens to a young, convicted criminal, Callum (played by Toby Kebbell), being transferred to a youth offenders institute which is overseen by the officer, Jed (Sean Pertwee).
We are immediately thrust into a world of violence and brutality – an every man for himself world.
Lessons are learned quickly, and Steve (with his sidekick Lewis) lets everyone knows he is in charge.
For some, like Davie and Lindsay, life is harder, for they are the victims of the group, and as they all share the same dorm, the two lads are subjected to regular physical and emotional abuse.
One day, however, everything changes. Davie is found dead – a victim of suicide; apart from Lindsay, nobody cares.
The lads are punished, and under the supervision of Jed, all six of them are taken to a remote, abandoned island, an old army training camp set in a beautiful, uninhabited forest.
On arrival, one of the lads asks Jed why they are there, to which Jed replies, “Building character lads, building character.” and so their adventure begins. Only, they are not alone, for something unknown is hunting them.
Wilderness features some strong, British, acting talent.
Stephen Wight plays Steve, the bully, the one that really will carry out his threats. Callum (Toby Kebbell) is the main character.
He is the misunderstood one. He is the most likeable of them all and possesses an inner kindness, though he projects a tough guy appearance.
Callum is the one guy who means to survive, for he has a strong will.
Taking a break, Callum (Toby Kebbell) and Mandy (Lenora Crichlow) plan their next move.
Sean Pertwee is the no-nonsense, tough guy (Jed) who is feared yet respected by the young offenders; he exudes a strong presence.
I like to see Sean Pertwee in this kind of role and film. I saw him recently as a similar, albeit nastier, character in The Seasoning House, and I enjoyed his performance.
I’m always convinced I am going to watch a decent film when I see his name in the credits. Stephen Wight played the bully well.
I hadn’t seen him before, and despite being smaller than some of the other guys, he was fearsome and intimidating. He was clearly a disturbed and violent character.
But I felt the film was made more enjoyable by the performance of Toby Kebbell (Callum). His character possessed admirable qualities, and his position and thought processes were clear to see. Callum was a strong character, and Toby Kebbell played him as such.
I really enjoyed watching this character and the way the actor played him. So for me, I wasn’t tired of watching this film and the circumstances play out.
Wilderness is a simple, though violent, film which I felt worked. Some of the ideas were a little odd and perhaps unnecessary, like the German Shepherd dogs.
As beautiful as they were to watch in the luscious forest setting, performing as a team and clearly well trained, I wasn’t entirely convinced by their behaviour.
Luckily, though, there was something else lurking behind the blood thirsty dogs, something more realistic and believable which kept the film grounded.
Callum (Toby Kebbell) approaches one of the victims hanging from the trees.
I enjoyed Wilderness, even with its characters that aroused little in terms of sympathy from me because they weren’t very likeable. It was set in beautiful countryside, and I love to see horror films in natural settings. I feel there is something to be gained from the contrast between beauty and brutality. Wilderness manages to keep the audience engaged from start to finish, and delivers an ending that doesn’t disappoint.
Wilderness is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime.

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