Movies From the Black Lagoon: Wild Country

Movies From the Black Lagoon
Wild Country - 2006, Rated R

A quintet of Scottish teenagers find themselves lost in the wilderness and on the run from a pack of werewolves in this gritty horror-fest that belongs on the must see list of any gore fan.
You'd think this one was a "Lifetime Network" movie from its opening scenes, which depict a young woman going through labor and then turning the child over for adoption. These scenes are stark and realistic enough to have you rechecking the plot synopsis on the back of the DVD case but this is about as normal as the situations get in this one. From here things get more horror movie-ish as our young mother, Kelly, embarks on a hiking trip with three other teens that is being sponsored by a priest, father Steve.
Steve is a bit of dink and preps the kids for their hike (to a quaint bed and breakfast where he will await them in comfort) by telling them about the true legend of Sawney Bean. He was a cannibal who lived in the same region two hundred years before. He married his own sisters and trained their offspring to live off of travelers by robbing and killing them before making a meal out of their 18th century victims. The kids are well rid of Steve when he drops them off but a surprise waits for Kelly. The father of the child she gave up is waiting for them and tries to use the trip to patch things up with Kelly. He's greeted with a firm kick into the region that spawned their troubles.
Personal dramas soon take a back seat when the group stumble upon the bloody remains of a shepherd and are stalked by a hairy beast, which sees in the dark much better than they can. They are soon drawn to a decrepit castle where they find an abandoned infant resting near more shredded corpses. Here the film shows some respect for teens as Kelly takes the infant (and her maternal instincts kick in) while the entire group decides to examine there problem for a solution rather than panic. They opt to stay together but still lose members when the rocky terrain turns treacherous when combined with the pitch-black night.
The group is soon cut down to three members who take refuge in the castle. Morning comes giving them a fighting chance, which they take full advantage of by luring the beast underneath a loose stone, which they drop onto the critter with great results. Unfortunately they soon realize that the castle houses an entire family of wolf like critters and they are far from safe there. They make a break for it but only Kelly makes it to the inn. There she finds Father Steve who doesn't believe her story and wrongly accuses her of being driven by guild over giving up her child (a decision he helped talk her into). Steve does turn into a true believer when a wolf shows up at the door but that doesn't get him off the hook. It does make for a gruesome finale and the film also offers up a shocker of a final twist that works beautifully.
This is as good as werewolf movies get and ranks up there with "Dog Soldiers" and the Universal Pictures classics. The film also deserves credit for allowing its characters to be smart. The special effects are pretty sturdy but the real star here is actress Samantha Shie4lds, who plays Kelly. She makes this work and comes off as a young woman who has learned from her mistakes but refuses to go down the road of self-pity. The monster make-up is rough but effective as are the attack sequences which feature a ton of the red stuff. The only drawbacks here are that some scenes are too dimly lit and that the film was distributed by Lionsgate (who bought the film in 2006 but waited three years to release it) who decided to dump the film on DVD in January without a lick of publicity.
Best Line: " We're deep in sheep shagging country."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail and to read to children every Wednesday at 10:30am at Borders in Hagerstown. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: