Friday, July 7, 2017
So Many Dead Bodies, So Little Exploit: The Hike (2011)
Starring: Jemma Bolt, Stephanie Siadatan, Lisa-Marie Long
Sometimes normality can be the perfect disguise for a killer. Though in a horror movie, it may take more than just a pretty face turned evil to be effective.
The Hike opens with something obscured chasing a girl through the woods while she runs to dead bodies and gets other people along the way killed. Eventually, whatever is chasing the girl catches up and she is murdered offcamera.
Shifting to some time later, we now follow a group of five women on a hiking weekend, obviously through the same backwoods as the ones in the opening judging from the dead bodies they fail to notice. Venturing through mountainous trails and thick trees, they talk about their lives, share a bonding moment or two, and encounter other hikers and campers, both suspicious and friendly, before finally setting up camp for the night.
Problem arises when one of the girls failed to return that evening from gathering fire wood, prompting the group to look for her and cross paths with a group of men who, after coaxing the girls to share a brief fun in the lake in the midst of their search, agreed to help find their missing friend. What they didn't know is that someone out the woods is on a murderous raping spree and that they're closer to these girls than they would have ever thought.
Calling The Hike a slasher film is a bit off on some points, most probably due to the fact that there's a stronger emphasis on survival and rape-and-revenge exploitation rather than the usual stalk-and-kill narrative backwood-types like Friday the 13th (1980), Madman (1982) or even The Burning (1981) established. The closest it ever did to something slasher-like would be the in media res opening kill and the climactic cat-and-mouse showdown between what remains of both the girls and villains, leaving the rest of the film with a grueling rape-and-murder plot more fitting to be categorized with exploitation films like I Spit on Your Grave (1978) and The Last House On The Left (1972). In a way, this kinda works in the sense that it gave a bit of realistic grit to the usual backwoods horror with a vile scenario that can be replicated in real life, but everything else leans much closer to terrible B-flick horror territory with scenes of necrophilia, outlandish murder sprees and a whole lot of dumb horror movie decisions forcing their way into the story, many of which failing to work in favor of the movie.
Normally, I wouldn't mind the B-flick treatment of grandeur exploitation and shloppy movie making, but The Hike tries too hard to be this edgy thriller while failing to utilize the grim situation it presents to us. A whole lot of the killings are simple knife stabbings so the bodycount department barely satifies no matter how much it is stylized with slow-editing and zoom-in shots. The supposedly shocking scenes of rape are pretty tame for most parts, many of which either look like dry humping or spooning, so the film even failed to upset lastingly and gets incredibly tiresome with its threats of rape. (Or, again, dry-humping since none of the girls got naked. Two of the men though...) It all kinda gets worse the further the movie nears the end as all of the characters seem to get dumber and dumber, leading to a horrible last minute shocker that's so very stupid, it hammered the final nail to just how this film wasted its potential to be a decent survivalist slasher flick and that it can be easily replaced by other better backwoods bodycount horror film.
The Hike certainly looks like there's a bit of money spent to make it look professional, but the shallow characterization and lacklustre acting of its casts say otherwise. The truth is I really wanted to enjoy this for its should-be intense plot and the unusual directions of its twists, but it's all handled so messingly that the end result is just a plainly unexciting film. The Hike started promisingly, only to stumble and fall over and over again so it's definitely not for me. For those who can try to like a bland and forgettable backwoods bodycounter, though, this Hike's for you.
1 female seen hanging dead
1 female dragged away, killed
1 male killed
1 female stabbed
1 female murdered, method unknown
1 body seen inside a cavern
1 body seen underwater
1 female stabbed on the chest with a hunting knife
1 male stabbed to death with a hunting knife
1 female stabbed with a knife
1 female seen murdered
1 male hacked to death with a hatchet
1 female brained to death with a rock
1 male stabbed with a knife
1 female hacked with a hatchet
1 male hacked with a hatchet
1 male drowned in a pool
1 female hit with a fire poker