With the revival of the British horror film in recent years, the sub genre of the in-the-woods shocker has simultaneously experienced an upswing in popularity on both sides of the Atlantic - witness 'Dog Soldiers', 'Wrong Turn', 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', 'The Descent' and the upcoming 'Severance'. At the outset 'Wilderness' looks like another worthy addition to terror-amongst-the-trees, but it loses its way.
After the suicide of a fellow inmate, a group of young offenders (Kebbell, McKay, Neal, Wight) are brought by their prison officer Jed (Pertwee) to an uninhabited island for punishment/character building. Once there, they discover that two young women prisoners and their supervisor Louise (Reid) are also using the former military outpost for the weekend. But that's the least of Jed and Louise's problems - someone else is waiting for all of them, determined that no-one will make it back alive.
'Deathwatch' director Bassett's film begins promisingly, but 'Wilderness' ends up as just another run-of-the-mill slasher movie. Bassett's biggest mistake is to kill two of his most interesting characters too early, leaving a number of also-rans to fill out the plot and depriving his film of more memorable scenes. He also reveals the killer too quickly and lets him speak too much - resulting in some scenes with enough ham for the entire cast to snack on. If only as much attention was paid to the script as to aerial shots of the island.
Those faults aside, Bassett doesn't disappoint on the gore front. This isn't one of those sanitised offerings for the teen market, it's nasty and bloody with enough mayhem to make most horror fans overlook some even more horrific dialogue.