After reading no less than positive thoughts (mainly by horror fans), in the back of my mind I was thinking that maybe I was setting myself up for a huge letdown after finally managing to get my hands on a copy (uncut too). Gladly to say it lived up to its reputation and I was thoroughly enthralled by the slow grinding, suspense-drilling minimal 70s survival horror set-up amongst the remote, vast Canadian deep mountainous backwoods.<br/><br/>Five doctors meet up every year, and this reunion they decide to go on a trek in a remote mountain terrain known by the local Indians as the Cauldron of the Moon. However they soon realise they're not alone, and find they'll being stalked and slowly picked off by someone who seems to hold a grudge of some sort.<br/><br/>What I found that separated this from most backwoods survival horror (and it shares common ground with its blatant influencer 'Deliverance') is that the characters are given more emotional weight (as background mistakes and methodical differences arose from the unbearable stress) and in doing so makes their conflicts and petty bickering intensely raw and effective in the way they stretch their friendships. This is based more so on the inflicting psychological drama, than say just the nasty action (gore and violence is kept low-key, but there is still a dangerous air of sinisterness within). It's a fight for survival, reverting back to primal instincts isn't option at first, but eventually it succumbs to. Also lingering in the well-written script is the focus of being frightened by the unknown and paralysed by abandonment. Our deranged tormentor stays pretty much a shadow (we're give a brief story or explanation to why he's humiliating and torturing these doctors. Is it personal? Does someone know more than they let on? Or it is just in the wrong place at the wrong time) to only appear as an eerily ominous figure in the picturesque backdrop (that sets off some nerves), until the final closing frames we come face-to-face with the freak of nature. The material formed by Ian Sutherland is cerebral and emotionally guided, if a little grey.<br/><br/>Director Peter Carter efficiently constructs a productively tight pace and bleak atmospherics from the alienating locations. Distinctively skin crawling imagery can leave a haunting mark. Sure the low-budget showed up some niggles (jumpy editing and dark passages), but was neatly worked around it. The tension is gained more so from the authentic character interactions and attitudes that they battle to stay one step ahead. As it's just no the killer to worry about either, but the tearing harshness of Mother Nature. Being eaten alive by bugs. Rapid moving rivers. Unstable terrain and the beaming sun. And not to forget one another. The performances are tremendously towering and strongly delivered by a dependably competent cast. An anchor-like Hal Holbrook is demandingly sharp and Lawrence Dane is suitably good. Hagood Hardy's majestically shuddery music score had that organic sense surrounding it and fitted in perfectly. Rene Verzier's camera-work is top-rate as he sharply lenses the colourful backdrop, but also the impending intensity in the character's actions.<br/><br/>An excellently uneasy and captivating low-budget survival trek that keeps it all quite basic, but manages to also bring out the bitter blows when it counts.
Adventure / Horror
Adventure / Horror
Five doctors go on vacation deep in the Canadian wilderness. After all but one pair of the party's shoes disappear, the remaining shoed camper decides to hike out and go look for help. Soon after he leaves, however, his four companions realizes that something is very wrong when someone leaves a decapitated deer head just outside their camp. Even though they still don't have their shoes, they decide to follow their friend's trail out of the woods, but their path is blocked by someone who doesn't want to see them leave the forest alive.
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