After being forced to give her baby girl up for adoption, Kelly Ann decides to go on a hike across the Scottish Highlands with a group of friends. Things don’t go according to schedule when the group come across an abandoned baby in the ruins of an old castle. Deciding to take the baby to safety, the group heads off home but are soon attacked by a mysterious wolf-like beast that begins picking them off one-by-one.
It’s nice to see plenty of low budget attempts to get the horror bandwagon rolling again in the UK and Ireland. Over the last few years we’ve seen many varying efforts like Dog Soldiers, The Cottage, Isolation and Dead Meat attempt to bust the Hollywood and Asian monopoly on the genre. There is something refreshing about watching home-grown horror because we don’t just remake old films all of the time like Hollywood has a tendency to do right now. Granted, most of the films recycle tried and tested plots but when was the last time you saw a UK remake of a horror film made ten or twenty years ago?
The films aren’t made by ex-MTV editors looking to step into films. They have been made by people with love and respect for the genre. Even low budgeted titles such as this one benefit from the love that the director clearly has for the genre. With just the right amount of tension, action, comedy and drama, Wild Country does what it can with a limited budget and does it reasonably well.
Wild Country clocks in at a very slim seventy-two minutes which means there is little time to waste and director Craig Strachan does a pretty good job of getting us to the good stuff as quickly as he can without compromising his characters. It’s not exactly a film where past relationships are going to matter once everything goes tits up so what little development the characters are given does enough to warrant us caring a little about some of them. The Scottish actors do grind your ears a bit with their accents at first but once you get used to it, the accents aren’t that bad (although that’s coming from an Englishman living down the road from Scotland – Johnny Foreigner may have some trouble in understanding what they are talking about!). They also talk like they are having a proper conversation between mates and not just spewing out the script which does help with the film’s sense of realism. The scenes when they spend their first night on the Highlands will bring back memories of An American Werewolf in London and it’s a shame that more isn’t made of this setting early on instead of just letting the monster loose at the first given opportunity.
The werewolf has a lot to be desired though. It looks ok in the dark because all you can really see are sharp teeth and an odd glint in its eye. In fact the night attacks are well-staged. But the problem is that most of the creature action happens during the day! So you get to see the rather rubbish guy-in-a-suit-on-all-fours monster plodding around slowly like a pantomime horse. Quite how it is supposed to chase after the characters (as it was supposedly doing in the dark) remains to be seen.
It does kind of ruin the suspense that is built early on when you don’t actually get a good look at it and you conjure up all sorts of scary images. Dog Soldiers managed to give us some truly scary-looking werewolves on a limit budget so it’s a pity that more wasn’t made of these fur balls too. The scenes during the night are also very dark. I’m not trying to sound too stupid because I understand the need for realism and you’re not going to find any light on the Highlands but it’s a film and you need to see at least part of what is happening, not just presume from the noises and screams.
Wild Country is a decent stab at a werewolf film, made more remarkable given that it only had a £1m budget which is pittance nowadays. It shows that British horror is still alive and kicking – it just needs the money men to put more of their cash into the films to take them to the next level.