Director/Screenplay – Christopher Schrack, Producers – Christian Briceno, Christopher Schrack & Liana Werner-Gray, Photography – Caleb Lopez & Jaron Lopez, Music – Chris Haigh, Kevin MacLeod & Christopher Schrack, Makeup Effects – Steve Tolin, Production Design – Guy Farmer. Production Company – Lucid Gem Productions LLC/LW Films
Liana Werner-Gray (Cass), Matthew Veltri (Jesse), Andrew Roth (Glenn), Thomas Daniel (Deputy Helm)
Cass takes her boyfriend Jesse away camping in the woods for a weekend. As they sleep that night, their tent is slashed by someone with a knife and they are then pursued through the woods. Returning in the morning to find their things trashed, they are faced with a nerve-wracking trip through the woods to get help.
Backwater was the second film for Christopher Schrack who previously made the non-genre Elysium (2010) – no relation to Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium (2013).
The backwoods camping trip/weekend in a cabin in the woods is a horror staple that has served well in classic works ranging from Deliverance (1972) to Friday the 13th (1980) and The Evil Dead (1981) and numerous others. Christopher Schrack ventures into the genre once again here. Backwater is not a film that offers anything particularly original in terms of treatment. The sole exception to this is a reasonable mid-film twist that throws some of the expectations on their head.
My main problem with Backwater is that it is a film where not much happens. Christopher Schrack gets a naturalistic feel as Matthew Veltri and Liana Werner-Gray set up camp. Knowing the genre as we do, we keep waiting for something sinister to happen. Alas, when it comes to segueing into the horror aspect, Schrack’s handling is laidback to the point of incredibly slow and one where he only infrequently has his finger on the pulse of the tension. Suddenly about the half-hour point, the horror element kicks into action and there is a moderate jolt as a light appears outside the tent and a knife tears through, followed by their being pursued through the woods. This welcomely gets things moving. On the other hand, that remains it again for some time. After waiting until the 53-minute point, there is an effective jolt. However, the wait all the way until the end results only in a disappointingly weak payoff.