With camping season in full swing, we decided to highlight a breed of films that are best avoided if you are heading into the wild.
We’re talking about movies that take place on back roads, deep in the woods and in far-flung, sparsely populated locales—the kind of places where opportunities for outdoor activities abound.
But these are movies… Any protagonist who ventures into an unspoiled location is guaranteed to encounter something a lot more troublesome than pesky mosquitoes and spotty cellphone service.
Ian and Samantha head to a national park, hoping the bush will give them space for some quiet time together. They arrive at an isolated campsite to find an SUV and a tent – no sign of the occupants.
As night falls and the campers fail to return, Ian and Sam grow increasingly uneasy. The discovery of a distressed child wandering in the woods unleashes a terrifying chain of events that test the young couple to breaking point.
Yes, technically it’s a horror film, but any urbanite camper who ventures out into the woods is going to hear strange noises late at night – and think of this film.
This film combined Hi8 video with B&W 16mm film. The premise is 3 students go into the Maryland woods at night and are never seen again. All that remains is the “found footage” documenting their adventures leading up to their final minutes.
Based on the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who abandoned a traditional post-graduate life and attempted to live independently in the wilds of Alaska. What happened to him on the way transformed this young wanderer into an enduring symbol for anyone who has dreamed chucking it all and returning to nature.
In the end, he tested himself by heading alone into the wilds of the great North, where everything he had seen and learned and felt came to a head in ways he never could have expected.
It’s a sobering reminder to be prepared and humble before venturing into the wilderness; but many campers will also relate to McCandless’ sense of adventure and abandon.
Adapted from poet James Dickey’s popular novel, John Boorman’s 1972 movie recounts the grueling psychological and physical journey taken by four city slickers down a river in the backwoods of Georgia. At the request of Iron John-esque Lewis (Burt Reynolds), Ed (Jon Voight), Bobby (Ned Beatty) and Drew (Ronny Cox) agree to canoe down wild, uncharted section of the river before a dam project ruins the region.
After warnings from the locals, and Drew’s ominous “Dueling Banjos” encounter with a mute inbred boy, the four men embark on their trip. On day 2, things take a turn for the worse when Bobby and Ed decide to rest on shore after becoming separated from Lewis and Drew. Two rifle-wielding mountain men (Bill McKinney and Herbert “Cowboy” Coward) emerge from the woods and capture the men. I won’t go into details on what happens next but if you haven’t seen the film — be warned.
Lewis and Drew rescue them, but the attack changes the nature of the journey. As the river gets rougher and rougher, the men come to nightmarish grips with what it means to survive outside the safety net of “civilization.”
A dream vacation turns into a nightmare in this taut thriller from Australia. Ben (Nathan Phillips), Lizzie (Cassandra Magrath), and Kristy (Kestie Morassi) are three friends who, after a night of celebratory drinking, hit the road for a trip to Wolf Creek National Park, where they plan to spend a week hiking and surfing. The three friends are happy to be spending time together, especially after Ben makes the happy discovery that Lizzie is as infatuated with him as he is with her.
After a long day hiking, Ben, Lizzie, and Kristy make the unpleasant discovery that their car’s battery is dead, leaving them stuck in the middle of nowhere. Help arrives in the form of Mick (John Jarratt), a burly but good-natured outdoorsman who happens upon them; Mick tells them that he can fix their car, and offers to give them a ride to his place down the road.
Grateful but a bit nervous around the gregarious stranger, Ben, Lizzie, and Kristy offer Mick a wealth of thanks for his help, and give him some money for his troubles before they fall asleep around the campfire. The next morning, the travelers find themselves bound, gagged, drugged, and separated from one another, and they realize Mick is not the good Samaritan they imagined.
Peter Fonda, Warren Oats, Lara Parker and Loretta Swit star as two couples who go on vacation together and drive their R.V. deep into the Texas hinterlands where they camp out, drink beer and tear up the backroads on their dirt bikes.
Their holiday turns deadly when they accidentally witness a secret ceremony of devil worshippers and a human sacrifice. Their presence is discovered and they barely elude the pursuing coven members.
When they report the incident to the local police, the investigation leads nowhere and the two couples are strongly urged to leave the area. Back on the road again, the vacationers soon realize they are not safe and are being stalked at every stop along their way.