Saturday, 2 May 2015

Backtrack - Review


Written by Mick Sands
Directed by Tom Sands

Julian Glover prepares to hit some unwittingyoung campers for six

Backtrack is an ambitiously self-proclaimed "psychological horror" whose far-fetched story rests upon 4 unfortunate young people who regress (either deliberately or without realising) into their "past-lives". Unfortunately ley lines get tangled and it turns out that the past-lives in question coincide with the very much present life of a now-doddery Nazi parachutist who had been sent into Britain to cause mayhem during World War Two. His mission failed when his plane crashed on Sussex's South Downs and now the old and gruesomely scarred German ekes out his days as a devil-worshipping recluse in a Sussex barn, quietly awaiting the opportunity to avenge the deaths of his wife and kids who didn't survive the war. 

Julian Glover, veteran of the RSC and almost a national treasure, plays the old man and that this movie even scores two stars is due to Glover's outstanding contribution, making the often execrable dialog sound threatening. Elsewhere Haydn West’s sumptuous Downs photography and Richard Morson's score also impress.

But that's it. Opening with a WW2 battle sequence that seems inspired by the Call Of Duty video game, with references elsewhere to horror classics The Shining and An American Werewolf In London, director Sands' ambitions are high. His achievement however is a movie that resembles a cross between a shoddier version of Carry On Camping, crossed with a DIY instruction video as Glover gets medieval with a blowtorch on the unfortunate youngsters. 

Good horror along with well executed gory effects is all part of the magic of the movies. But Backtrack just isn’t good. Glover apart, the acting disappoints, with much of the film proving unintentionally comical (the scene in which a tractor drags an occupied tent across a field could be straight out of Top Gear). Further, too much of the graphic violence is gratuitously laboured, with shoddy visual effects to boot. In their recent film Big Bad Wolves, directors Keshales and Papushado showed how horrific a blowtorch can be, when photographed by a skilled and subtle director. Unfortunately Backtrack's racks of sizzling human flesh amount to little more than cheap “torture porn” 

Nonetheless the movie does represent a new filmmaker practising his craft and when I spoke with Glover about the shoot, the actor, who to his credit has a recognised history of supporting emerging creative talent, spoke highly of the professionalism of Sands and his cast and crew. 

Accompanied by a good drink and maybe a takeaway, Backtrack could make for an evening's entertainment. Just go easy on ordering anything flame-grilled.

UK RELEASE: Backtrack is now available in the UK on DVD and LoveFilm through Mandala Films and on Amazon Prime and Blinkbox through Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment under the alternate title ‘Nazi Vengeance.’

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