Alex and Jenn travel to Restoule Provincial Park in southern Ontario for a weekend of hiking and camping. Alex is excited to bring Jenn to a secluded lake where he spent time with his family as a child. Upon arrival to the park a ranger informs them that the trail they intend to hike is closed for the season and it is a $500 fine per person if they are caught travelling on it. Determined to share his childhood memories with Jenn, Alex ignores the ranger’s warnings and the two begin hiking the closed trail. After setting up camp on the first day a mysterious stranger, Brad, shows up carrying fish. He informs the couple that he is a professional trail guide. Jenn invites him to eat dinner with them as Alex stews in the background annoyed that his romantic getaway is being interrupted. Eventually Brad gets the hint and takes off but it is not the last we will see of him. Meanwhile Alex is becoming increasingly concerned about bears after encountering tracks and other evidence. He hides his concerns from Jenn not wishing to worry her however he is unable to keep his worry to himself when they wake up the next morning and find all of their food eaten. Alex’s deepest fears are realized when they come face to face with a mammoth grizzly bear, an unstoppable force who pursues the couple as they desperately try to escape the forest.
Supposedly based on a true story, Backcountry illustrates the perils of hiking in the wilderness without the experience or no-how of how to stay safe while camping. Alex and Jenn are naïve and woefully unprepared to deal with the various threats the forest has to offer. The film is a slow burn with a horrifying third act. Crisp, wide shots of the forest and a frightening use of sound help drive home just how scary and dangerous it is to venture into nature. A solid entry in the “animals run amok” genre with a terrific soundtrack score.