out of Five
Running time: 93
Wilderness has an extremely high gore factor and a couple of genuinely nasty scenes but it's ultimately let down by its dislikeable characters.
What's it all about?
Sean Pertwee stars as Jed, a warden at a Young Offenders’ Institute, who's assigned to take a group of inmates to a deserted island for an Outward Bound course after one of their dorm-mate commits suicide because of vicious bullying.
Things look up when the group runs into a couple of girls (including Sugar Rush's Leonora Crichlow and Alex Reid from The Descent) but it isn't long before their numbers start rapidly diminishing, thanks to an unseen assailant intent on picking them off one by one.
Wilderness is interesting for the games Bassett plays with the audience's sympathies – for example, one of the inmates (played by Stephen Wight) is so incredibly evil that his actions are easily the most shocking thing in the film, meaning that by the end you're rooting for the bad guy to finish him off.
Pertwee lends the film a certain pedigree and there's good support from Alex Reid, although her character is sadly underused. There are also some genuinely effective scenes, including a very nasty man-trap sequence.
It's clear where director Michael J Bassett's priorities lie because the gore content of Wilderness is extremely high, suggesting that he's seen more video nasties in his time than can strictly be considered healthy. As a result, some of the gorier scenes are incredibly hard to sit through, although you have to admire just how far Bassett is willing to go.
The biggest problem with Wilderness is that it kills off its most likeable characters too early on and the ostensible lead (Toby Kebbell as Callum) is woefully underwritten so it's hard to really care about him.
Gore-hounds won't be disappointed but the dislikeable characters mean that Wilderness just isn't scary enough.