Grisly Netflix Survival Thriller Lulls You Into Safety And Then Violently Attacks

By Robert Scucci | Published

If you thought the bear attack in The Revenant was brutal, then you clearly haven’t sat down and watched Backcountry yet. Not unlike a real-life bear attack, the conflict in Backcountry will slowly creep up on you, and by the time you’re fully aware of what’s happening, it’s already too late to turn back.

But as you’re dragged through the brush and screaming for your life, you’ll be awestruck by this film’s stunning cinematography, brooding musical score, and what I consider to be one of the most realistic depictions of fear found in a film that doesn’t boast any supernatural elements that I’ve seen in a very long time.

Don’t Be Put Off By The Simple Premise

Starting out innocently enough, Backcountry centers on Alex (Jeff Roop) and Jen (Missy Peregrym), a young couple about to embark on a romantic weekend getaway. Alex has been dying to take Jen out to the trails that he adored so much as a child for a couple of days of canoeing, hiking, and camping deep in the wilderness. In a horrifying turn of events, the couple gets lost and hunted down by a black bear who doesn’t take too kindly to a human presence.

You may be wondering if there is anything else to Backcountry; that’s basically the long and short of it. However, Adam MacDonald proves that he’s a master of suspense with his directorial debut because that’s all this movie needs to be an effective survival thriller. And the moral of the story, you ask? Bears will be bears.

Based On A Tragic True Story

Though Backcountry is based on real-life events, a number of creative liberties were taken for the sake of storytelling and building dramatic tension. The events that inspired this film left Mark Jordan in critical condition, and his wife, Jacqueline Perry, succumbing to her wounds before Mark could find a rescue team.

The fictionalized version of the couple, portrayed by Jeff Roop and Missy Peregrym, suffers a similar fate in this retelling of events, and both stars brought their A-game in acting out a story about a young couple forced to rely on their survival instincts without any means to contact civilization during their harrowing ordeal.

A Woman, A Man, And A Bear

As unrelenting and violent as Backcountry is in its third act, I need to talk about how well-acted this film actually is. Alex and Jenny seem like a real couple, and there’s not one moment I didn’t believe their exchanges. When they’re driving to the provincial park that sets the plot in motion, Jenny criticizes Alex for not having both hands on the wheel, and he immediately replies by dancing in the driver’s seat to playfully antagonize her, which is met with laughter.

Little moments like this happen frequently, and are peppered throughout Backcountry to drive home its sense of realism.

A Carefully Thought Out Screenplay

When the situation becomes hopeless, fight-or-flight takes over, and we’re left with such an intensely shot climax that you’ll never want to go hiking again. Now, I’m not one for victim-blaming, but there were times in Backcountry when I couldn’t help but point out how most of the couple’s struggles were Alex’s fault.

My willingness to say “what an idiot” out loud several times before I decided to be sympathetic to their plight is a testament to how carefully MacDonald thought about his bare-bones screenplay that does so much more telling than showing.

Streaming Now On Netflix


Backcountry is the real deal because its premise and execution are as unforgiving as the territorial and ravenously hungry black bear that’s the source of so much agony and grief. Though this movie is slow to start, its pacing is necessary because it illustrates how suddenly life can change when you let your guard down.

When you decide to fire up Netflix and give Backcountry a go, make sure you have a couple of road flares and a can of bear mace nearby.