Kelly Ann is forced to give up her baby for adoption. She goes on a trek across the Scottish highlands where she finds a baby abandoned in an old castle. She must protect it when she finds herself hunted by a horrible creature.
Wild Country is a Scottish film released way back in 2005. Three years later Lions Gate picked it up for its U.S. DVD release. Is it worth the wait?
The film starts when a teenage Kelly Ann is forced to give up her newborn baby to adoption by her mother and minister. She is obviously not pleased and tells the minister to get the hell out of her hospital room when he comes to tell her she did the right thing. The movie jumps ahead a few months and Kelly Ann is leaving on a youth club excursion across the Scottish Highlands. Their minister drops the four teens off, gives them maps and makes sure they know where their pick up point the next day is supposed to be. A fifth teen named Lee, who turns out to be Kelly Ann’s ex-boy friend (and father of her baby) shows up and invites himself along for the trip.
All the pieces are in place for the horror film. The minister tells the kids the story of a scary legend on their way to their excursion, giving their imaginations a run for their money. They meet a strange shepherd at the start, giving us a great red herring. We learn rather quickly that this creepy old bastard isn’t going to cause any harm when he is the first victim of the man beast, leaving him full of spurting veins.
When you see a movie about people camping in the woods only to run across a killer beast, you can’t help but compare it to American Werewolf in London. That movie is a great inspiration to this one all the way down to the use of traditional makeup and costumes instead of CGI. Where the movie lacks is characterization. We know all about Kelly Ann and her inner anger, and learn a little about the fact that Lee still has feelings for her but the other three are vacant slates. The movie is just over 80 minutes, so it might be better to get right into the killin’ but you don’t care about any of the victims, save the two leads.
The movie attempts to rise above the generic monster trappings when Kelly Ann and Lee find a crying baby abandoned in an old castle, surrounded by a group of slaughtered bodies. Kelly Ann, who was forced to give up her baby, immediately attaches the child to her breast to satisfy its hunger. The movie is about a mother getting a second chance, still with the instincts to nurture intact, protecting the child at all costs from the immediate danger. That is pretty deep for a Lions Gate horror DVD.
When your choice of filmmaking is to make all the effects natural, you have to be very careful because unless you have someone like Rick Baker at your beck and call, intestines look like nothing more than a really long string of bratwurst. That is the best way to describe the special effects in this movie. Most of the kills are done off screen and we only see the results. The results look kind of cool, and I can’t fault the filmmakers for making do with what they could afford.
They made a mistake. They made the beast visible in the daylight. If you don’t have a great costume, this is a big problem. The creature has the face of a pig and the body of a wolf. It doesn’t look scary and it looks ridiculous, like something right out of The Dark Crystal. It destroys the mystique and scariness of the horror movie. There was one awesome scene that might have saved it all and that was towards the end with one of the final kills. It was glorious.
Wild Country is a small horror movie and it was obvious a lot of love went into its production. I would rather watch a small, cheap horror movie like this – with all its warts – than any number of big budget, all CG, horror fests without any love at all evident in its creation. I also have to say the ending of this movie was ingenious.
Behind the Scenes (37:04) – I really enjoy behind the scenes footage of the making of independent cinema, even ones that cost a million. Jesus, a million dollars and that is what their monster looked like?