31 Days of Horror – ‘Backcountry’

Squabbling couple runs into one mean bear in (quasi) fact-based thriller

Greet horror movies “based on a true story” with extreme skepticism.

“The Blair Witch Project’s” marketing machine teased the “truth” behind its fictional found footage yarn to great effect.

The 1974 horror classic “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” similarly stretched a kernel of truth like taffy to fit the advertising campaign.

The events depicted in 2014’s “Backcountry” actually happened. Sort of. First-time director Adam MacDonald researched black bear attacks and used two incidents to inspire his film. The filmmaker’s research gives the thriller a palpable sense of dread, something many horror movies can’t convey.

We know Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers aren’t real, but campers should fear black bears roaming near their camp sites.

Backcountry - Official Trailer I HD I IFC Midnight

Alex (Jeff Roop) and girlfriend Jenn (Missy Peregrym) set out on a camping adventure that takes a wrong turn from the start. He’s cocky and eager to flex his outdoor chops, and she’s more than willing to play along.

At first.

Except Alex’s “chops” aren’t as advertised, and a chance encounter with a genuine outdoorsman (Eric Balfour) upends the trip’s romantic potential. Alex’s wounded ego makes for an unpleasant companion, and what began as a fun getaway slowly becomes a test of their compatibility.

Could this be their last vacation as a couple? None of that matters when they realize they’re not alone in the woods.

MacDonald set out to upend survival movie cliches, and he mostly succeeds. He’s aided by Roop and Peregrym who connect as a couple in distress before and after the bear makes its appearance.

“Backcountry” is mostly fiction, but bear attacks kill people every year.

The National Park Service says the color of the bear in question dictates your best chances of survival. If a brown bear charges, the best defense is to play dead.

That isn’t wise If the bear in question is black. In that case, fight back with everything possible.

One thing is clear: Bear spray may be your best defense against a scared or predatory beast.

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