To paraphrase the old riddle: If Timber Falls in a theatre, but no one is there to see or hear it, does it still make a sound? In a word: Yes. And that sound will be a scream.
Although Slowhand is releasing this hikers-take-the-wrong-trail-in-the-woods-and-run-into-demented- hillbillies horror thriller in only 49 theatres, it’s actually a perfectly serviceable scary movie. The unlucky couple in this case is Mike (Josh Randall) and Sheryl (Brianna Brown), who—of course—disregard a gruff ranger’s warning to avoid the remote Timber Falls Trail on their first trip through a state park in rural West Virginia. When Sheryl disappears during an ill-advised solitary skinny dip, Mike at first blames the run-of-the-mill moonshine-running roughnecks who interrupted the city slickers’ attempt to commune with nature—and each other—the day before.
But it turns out that the actual culprits are a trio of fierce fundamentalists who don’t tolerate premarital “relations” in those there parts and are determined to make Mike and his “bitch-whore girlfriend” atone for their sins in a totally twisted fashion. One of the three is the requisite monstrously-deformed-psychopath-with-a-distinctive-weapon-and-a-single-name, in this case, “Deacon” (Sascha Roseman). But if Timber Falls started out as something out of a horror-movie paint-by-numbers kit, director Tony Giglio has enough of an artistic sensibility to add his own original flourishes to the finished picture.
Notably, he acknowledges the incongruity between the villains’ professed Christianity and their decidedly un-Christian treatment of Mike and Sheryl with wry irony. A row of fetuses preserved in jars of formaldehyde hints at the origins of their murderous motivations, for instance, but said specimens certainly aren’t the products of abortions.
“An abortion?” asks a man who has been relentlessly torturing Mike and Sheryl for days, real horror evident in his expression. “No, that we won’t do.”
Another refreshing touch is that Mike and, especially, Sheryl aren’t quite the idiots that one might expect, given the whole lost-in-the-woods setup.
“I’m OK,” a bleeding Mike insists in one scene. “We’re OK.”
“You are not OK,” snaps Sheryl, who is strapped to a table. “And we are not OK.”
Timber Falls, however, is—at the very least—OK.
Cast: Josh Randall, Brianna Brown, Nick Searcy, Beth Broderick, Sascha Rosemann, Branden Morgan, T.W. Leshner, Ryan McGee and Carl Bressler
Director: Tony Giglio
Screenwriter: Daniel Kay
Producers: Christopher Eberts, Kia Jam, Steve Markoff, Bruce McNall and Arnold Rifkin
Genre: Horror thriller
Rating: R for strong bloody horror violence, torture, language and some sexuality
Running time: 95 min.
Release date: December 7, 2007 ltd.