OK, so the whole theory about unpleasant people trapped in an unpleasant situation making for bad movies? It needs a revision. Wilderness taught me that it’s all about seeing ‘em get their comeuppance — which means, actually, that it’s all about having characters who you’re invested in, whether you like ‘em or not.
The reformatory lads of Wilderness were pretty much the latter, so there’s a lot of joy to be had from seeing them stuck on an island with something dark and terrible stalking them. Said joy was aided and abetted by excellent acting on everyone’s part.
It maybe started a little slow; I think we could have cut more quickly to the island, and the first set of fake scares was clumsy. Then again, they may have been worth it for the plot complication that resulted, and in any case things start to move really fast when they start to move. Excellent sense of tension, excellent action.
And it’s nice to see a movie that isn’t trying to be about the end of the world or superspies or any such. Wilderness is a small movie about a personal and particular set of issues. It doesn’t need to be more than that, and it cuts right to the bone. Succinct.