Timber Falls (2007)


Stop me when this sounds familiar: A snooty young city couple decide to hike into the woods of West Virginia, only to discover...

Yeah, that didn't take very long, did it? Coming in late on the recent "survival horror" cycle we've been enjoying is Tony Giglio's Timber Falls, a very basic and fairly unimaginative take on material, themes, and misadventures best explored in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, and even Wrong Turn. In other words, you've seen it all before -- and the few moments of relatively "fresh" material is so silly and overwrought you won't believe it. (This one has bible-nuts and forced fornication!)

Suffice to say that Mike (Josh Randall) and Sheryl (Briana Brown) take the worst path possible while wandering (snootily) through the forests, and it doesn't take long before they come across a freakish family of religious kooks who kidnap them, force them to get married (!), and physically MAKE them have sex so the loony mama can have a baby. Or something. The second half is as outrageously silly as the first is patently tiresome, so if you're bored after Act I, you might consider holding out for the sillier stuff.

So what does director Tony Giglio get wrong? Pretty much everything. There's no tension to the tale; no sense of dread or impending doom or even mild creepiness. The crazy family is comprised of a bible-thumpin' mama who's more annoying than evil, a vanilla-faced middle-aged frump of a father, and a facially deformed youth who gets to do all the gory stuff. All things considered, they're hardly the scariest clan ever concocted. The whole piece feels like something that was tossed together (listlessly, dispassionately) once the "new" horror wave was in full swing.

Our hero/victims aren't much better than the premise they're trapped within. Poor lovely Sheryl is required to spend about half of the movie with her legs spread open, while Mike spends most of his time antagonizing and irritating the weapon-wielding weirdos. (After a while, you'll want to grab Mike and scream "Dude, stop back-talking, you idiot!") And if the flick winds down with a (somewhat) suitably raucous finale, that's just because the whole of the flick exists for one reason: To get you to really hate these annoying backwoods kidnappers. Fine, mission accomplished. They bugged me a lot, and I was glad to see 'em get theirs. (Plus, Giglio seems to have a big grudge against the church, although I'm hardly an expert on such things.)

So there's a half-decent finale, a few cool kills (that come out of left field), and a better-than-average lead performance by Randall. Fine. But it takes a just a bit more to make an effective horror movie. Timber Falls earns a few points for sheer silliness once Act III rolls around, but you'll have to muddle through a whole lot of familiar tedium to get there.

Nice scenery, though.