[Garret] When “Backcountry” Ticked Me Off, and I Loved It


I came across the movie Backcountry on a list of horror films that are overlooked, but are supposed to be “good.” It should still be on Netflix, so I recommend you watch it. Actually, I’m not sure if I do. It’s the kind of movie you need to watch when you are prepared for brief, yet magnanimously brutal moments. If I’m being completely honest, the film is rather boring. In fact, my first couple hours away from felt like a waste of time. But I did not come to appreciate the inherent nihilism in the film until later on.




I am not actually convinced that it is inappropriate for me to spoil this movie. It is based loosely on a true story about a couple who gets harassed by a black bear. What is intriguing, however, is that the bear does not seemingly act in accordance with its nature. Bears don’t just prey on humans, but the bear in this film certainly did, and the testimony of the one individual who actually survived the bear attack laid claim to its abnormal behavior. The film is very dull for the first hour or so. There is not much to it. A guy decides to take his girlfriend on a camping trip through the woods and they get lost. Throughout the movie, there are subtle hints that a bear attack is imminent, but it appears as though we are about to see a stylized, “movie-like” bear chase. But this is not the direction the film goes. We see seemingly anti-climactic buildups all throughout, with no apparent satisfactory conclusion. Then, one morning on the camping trip. The guy wakes up and opens his tent to the sight of a bear. The bear immediately heads over to their tent and proceeds to rip off the limbs of the man…. And many more gruesome details follow.


The movie has no relieving conclusions. It just ends in a morbid state of pure nihilism. It’s actually quite depressing, really… which is why I don’t recommend you watch it. Actually, I do. What this film helped me to do is contemplate the state of nature.


Creation, as taught in Scripture, is a gift. It is rarely seen as such, but that is precisely what it is. God, in His infinite fullness and mercy, has given creation to all creatures for their enjoyment and for the purpose of His Glory. So how can this film relate? The bear in the film is just doing what bears do. The film is maddening in this respect. There is really nothing that we can do about it. We cannot blame the characters for acting in a stupid manner, but we cannot really blame the bear either, because the bear was just acting within its natural habitat. I hear all too often that sin is the reason things like this happen. But that does not sit well with me. We cannot blame sin for a bear doing what it was seemingly created to do. All of life in the biosphere feeds off of each other. Creation, however, is not just for man, but for the enjoyment of all creatures.   For a detailed analysis of this, I highly recommend Richard Bauckham’s The Bible and Ecology.


Overall, there really is no morally or intellectually satisfying response to the horror of Backcountry. The movie has a brutish feel to it, but it is really just nature doing what nature does. Watch it, and consider these things as such.

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