There’s something about the justice system that just will never work. Juvenile offenders are an excellent example of the hazards of low budgets, and overcrowding. Kids that made stupid mistakes, or who are the products of abusive upbringings, will have to mix with sociopaths, rapists and murderers and the hierarchy of thugs, bullies and victims, becomes a melting pot of tension, homoerotic undertones (I’ve seen Oz, so I’m assuming it’s completely factual), and suicidal exit strategies.
I’m no bleeding heart who believes every criminal can be saved, or is just a therapy session/religious revelation away from a life on the straight and narrow; but I also think that every individual should be judged on their own merit, and conduct, and putting a green little shoplifter inside with a group of teenagers that are hardened by crimes that would make a seasoned detective balk, is kind of a recipe for at the very least a bad influence and at the worst, a kid who is gonna be the target of some specialised bullying that will mess up the rest of their life.
Wilderness follows the story of a group of young offenders who are sent on a ‘bonding/camping trip’ after of their dorm mates is bullied into committing suicide. I don’t get how this is meant to be a punishment or even a help, but we’ll go with it. Upon setting up camp on the government owned, uninhabited, island, the group of boys discover that there is a group of naughty young girls staying on the island also – think, Greyfriars and St Trinians but with attempted rape and knives. After agreeing to stick to different sides of the island, deaths start occurring and the gang of criminals and their guardians, have to work out whether it’s one of their own, or someone else on their remote little getaway who has it in for them.
This film is a complete surprise, and for once it’s a pleasant one. Think Scum meets Lord of the Flies, with a sprinkling of Battle Royale and you have Wilderness. It’s gritty, unpleasant, and with no heroes for you to root for, this has great dialogue, beautiful locations, and some of the most creative and messy deaths I’ve seen in a while.
Thrilling, and genuinely disturbing in parts, this is a absolute gem of a Brit flick featuring some great acting, especially from Being Human’s Lenora Critchlow and the always brilliant Sean Pertwee.
My advice is, try not to break the law if you can help it, and if you must go camping with the Asbo clique, bring knives, and guns, and your running shoes.