Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the backwoods themed horror/thriller QUARRIES by writer/director Nils Taylor. To best describe the story, I will use my own plot summary:
“An abused woman trying to distance herself from her ex-boyfriend joins a wilderness expedition made up of similarly troubled women. While out in the wild, tragedy strikes and the women must fight for their survival against a vicious group of backwoods hunters.”
As evidenced above, the story is a fairly straightforward survivalist affair with little in the way of a twisty, turning plot. Since it lacks any complexity in the story department, it relies heavily on the characters and their intentions to keep the audience engaged. From that standpoint, it succeeds admirably by making each of the roles meaty without resorting to just telling us outright their various backgrounds. This style of development made for an interesting opening which had me paying close attention to each of the women just to figure out what drove them to join in on the expedition.
To be honest, I was unfamiliar with most of the actresses, so I had little to no preconceived notions in my head for their performances. Being blind this way paid off dividends as I found their performances to have a subtlety to them that made me think I had met these women before. Even during the more action packed second half, they never drifted into larger than life territory and kept their characters neatly grounded. This real world feel also makes them seem more relatable, which keeps us invested when the hunters use them as prey.
I do feel I have to take a moment to focus particularly on the hunters, as I found their implied history interesting. I say implied because all we are told of their background is that there was a mine fire in the area years ago, one of them has burns on his face, they believe in some form of religion, and the area where they live is mostly deserted shacks. While I have no proof that all of this was intentional, it reminded me of the former coal mining towns in West Virginia where the people stayed on the land in poverty even after the mines ran dry. This makes for an interesting theoretical backstory for the antagonists that plays upon the fear of those on the fringes of society turning violent.
If I had to level one complaint it would be that the score was completely uninteresting. Lately it seems as if many horror movie soundtracks are structured less around being memorable and more around having a loud noise to make the audience jump. Sadly, this fell into that trap (though not as often as some) leading to a score that I can barely even recall. What made this especially noticeable was that the music used over the opening credits was incredibly distinctive, so it raised my hopes that the mold would be broken, only to be let down when the same imposing tones took over for the feature proper.
Even with the slight misstep on the score, it is hard to argue against the fact that this is an intense picture. From the evasions, to the fight scenes, to the kills themselves; there is a lot of impact to this feature. It helps that after the fairly simple setup we hit the ground running and are barely given a chance to catch our breath.
All in all, this is a tense, evocative survival horror flick that has a kick butt female cast. The strength of the women’s roles and the implications of the antagonists’s background make for an engrossing experience. I do wish that there had been a more interesting soundtrack, but the rest of the production values are good. Fans of THE DESCENT (2005) or CARNAGE PARK (2016) should definitely enjoy this picture.