Stars: Dayo Okeniyi, Shawn Thomas, Tyler Rice, Jeremy Isabella, Flood Reed, Claire Dodin, Matt Hish, Mike Apple, Brian Allen, John Joyce, Michael Todd Schneider, Paul J Hennigan, Gaya Malakian, Stephen O’Neil Martin, Chip Kratzinger | Written and Directed by Flood Reed
‘Based on a true story’? Check. Rural American setting packed full of aggressive Hillbillies and weirdos? Check. Not really based on a true story? Check. One of the most annoying American teenagers ever to inhabit a horror film this side of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s Franklin? Check and check, in spades. Said teenage irritation and his three relatively bland friends get into trouble seeking a fabled strip club (really) out in rural America.
What sets American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire apart from its fellow Deliverance and Texas Chain Saw Massacre imitators is its devotion to sleaze and annoyance. Both, for the most part, being intentional. Bevvies of big breasted strip club hostesses jiggle pierced nipples at the screen, its young cast cat-calling and drooling over anything of the female persuasion that moves. The latter gets you typically loud and amateurish (but no less effective) heavy metal, bizarre editing tics, and a cast of characters consisting of people with names such as Bro, Buddy, Kid and, most unforgivably of all, Dude-Guy. Dude-Guy (Tyler Rice) being an almost unbearable pain in the ass, even by slasher movie standards.
Annoying as it may be, there’s a sense of ambition and style at play in American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire which can’t be denied. Irritating as the characters may be, they’re certainly memorable and distinct, giving plenty of schadenfreude to their inevitable demises. The script is even pretty funny at times, especially during one early sequence between Bro, Kid and a toe truck driver (spelling intentional, giving the film its laugh-out-loud gag). Flood Reed’s brash, sleazy style is sweary and relentless, much of the horror inspired by the young male’s fear of being raped by Hillbillies and psychopaths. Not for everyone, then, although it is a definite change of pace from the masses of horror films we’re used to in which women are the ones constantly being molested, victimised and raped.
These scenes are genuinely troubling and disturbing, made even more sickly thanks to an atmosphere not at all dissimilar to that of Tobe Hooper’s masterpiece and the contrast of annoying dude-bro (not a character) humour with real, horrible violence.
American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire is indie slasher filmmaking done right, turning its weaknesses into strengths, showing a sense of wit and ambition even where funds are low (it even quotes poetry!) and, most impressively of all, remaining watchable in spite of a character being literally named Dude-Guy.