If you’re looking for a survival horror film involving a group of teens being hunted in the woods by a psychopath, but would like one that didn’t have you rooting for the killer, then I’d like to suggest Glenn Withrow’s THE MOORING.
It’s about a group of teen girls who’ve gotten into trouble because of online activities like cyber-bullying, online gambling, and a hacking. They’ve been entered into a program that will teach them that “there is more to relationships than pushing buttons” by stripping them of their online access, and placing them on a houseboat for some camping in the great outdoors. Unfortunately, their excursion is interrupted by a pair of psychopathic drifters.
Here’s the synopsis from the THE MOORING’S official site:
Every 40 seconds a person goes missing. In northern Idaho, a group of teenage girls attended a summer camp to help them connect with nature without technology. They were told it would be a summer of change. As the girls’ houseboat is suddenly stranded in the middle of the river an odd couple comes to their aid. What was supposed to be a healing retreat turns deadly as the girls find themselves on the run, being pursued through the forest by a brutal and determined killer.
Looking at some of the promotional material for THE MOORING, coupled with the synopsis, almost had me skipping it as they really do the movie a bit of a disservice. Not that they completely misrepresent the product, but it does make THE MOORING look like another in a very long line of “teens-in-the-woods-stalked-by-a-madman” type slasher film. Technically, THE MOORING is a “teens-in-the-woods-stalked-by-a-madman” type slasher, but what makes it stand out is the cast – both the group of girls and the killer couple hunting them down.
The teens are played by unknowns and in no way look like typical Hollywood teen actresses. For the first time in recent memory, this film features a group of young girls who look exactly like any teen girls I see on a daily basis (and no, Jaded, I do not spend my days cruising Junior High Schools). These girls look and act… normal. This familiarity helps creating a sense of dread and had me pulling for them instead of against them. Which was odd because when it comes to teens in a horror film, I usually want to kill them myself.
As for the villains, they are a more realistic version of Mickey and Mallory in NATURAL BORN KILLERS, had that couple retired on a boat and spent their days cruising a (seemingly deserted) river. Richard is a true peice of shit, and Thomas Richard Brown plays him convincingly. He’s able to display a level of cold-hearted menace without ever crossing into cartoon character territory. His accomplice, played by Brooklyn Tate, did an even better job. Mickey doesn’t come across as menacing as her mate, but her extreme apathy, coupled with a hefty dose of Stockholm syndrome, makes her just as dangerous.
I appreciated the decision not to go with a supernatural killer, or using some deformed, backwoods hillbilly cannibal (although I do like my cannibal rednecks) as I find the more real the villain seems, the more effective they are. As we’ve seen with stories on this site, there’s really no need to make up hockey mask wearing monsters – just watch the news. Your neighbors are 100 times scarier.
The only negative I would point out, aside from a ludicrous plot point to get rid of the only adult in the teen’s group, is that there really doesn’t seem to be a point to the THE MOORING. There’s no underlying meaning or motivation behind it aside from watching some young, innocent girls being tracked down and slaughtered.
It’s not an overtly gory film, but the murders are brutal in their own right. Watching a 20-something year old Hollywood actress playing an unlikable teenager whose being slaughtered by a psychopath is one thing. Watching actual teen girls being outmatched, terrorized, and systematically murdered by a psychopath, is quite the other.
I wasn’t bothered by this, as dark films scratch my Schadenfreude inspired itch. Just be forewarned, the film is an unfair one that, at times, can be like watching a bully beating on someone for an hour – unabated and unhindered.