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(Seen on 5/31/08) It's nice when a movie surprises you by being something more than it originally appeared to be. Timber Falls, although I'd read some good reviews, seemed to be nothing more than your typical slasher in the woods horror flick. And for about the first half of the film it seemed just that way, but then a twist changed it all, and it became far more interesting. Now I won't say that this film worked on all levels, but if you're a fan of horror films, especially original ones, this film would be worth giving a try.

The film starts like most horror films, with somebody getting killed in the first scene, setting us up for what's going to happen when our main characters show up. A girl and her boyfriend are tied up in a grimy basement, the girl's hands have been nailed to a board, but she manages to escape, only to have a maniac with a creepy looking tool (see left) chase after her, where she decides to end it all by jumping off a cliff. Cut to our two lead character Mike and Sheryl, a couple from the big city, looking for a weekend getaway to nature. After talking to a ranger about where they should hike, they're off into the Appalachian forest.

They're having a great time too, enjoying the sites, even deciding to stop for a coitus break. They're rudely interrupted by a trio of local rednecks, who harass the couple for a while, before letting them get back on their way, setting up camp on top of a hill overlooking a lake. In the morning, Sheryl goes down for a dip, but is soon kidnapped by an unseen person. Mike wakes up to the sounds of her screams and is off into the woods looking for her. Again he runs into the rednecks, this time only two of them, he assumes the third is holding his girlfriend somewhere, and tries to beat it out of them, without any answer. He's off again, now much worse for wear and he finds a cabin in the woods. A kindly woman takes him in and starts to work on his wounds, and vows to call the cops to help look for Sheryl.

This is where the film takes a somewhat surprising turn. It's not so surprising that the woman isn't as friendly as she first appears, but her family's reasoning behind kidnapping this couple is. I don't want to spoil the fun of finding out the why for yourself, but it's pretty freaking twisted, and something I honestly haven't seen done in a film before. I'm probably building it up too much. It's not totally mind-boggling or anything, just weird and different, and the script is built well enough and the acting strong enough, to sell it.

The two opposing couples are what make this film work. Brianna Brown and Josh Randall as Sheryl and Mike have a good natural chemistry together, they both go through a good amount of torture and they sell it nicely. Nick Searcy and Beth Broderick, two character actors who've been around for a few decades each, get a chance to shine as the loony-couple, Clyde and Ida, who have nefarious plans for the young ones they're holding. Ida has a younger cousin, who's been deformed and brain-damaged; he's the one who carries the wicked looking knife, and represents the usual threat of these backwoods slasher flicks. The film is well directed by Tony Giglio, it carefully treads a tonal line between realism and lunacy very nicely; the film has a cold look to it and doesn't pour on the gore, but there's enough to feel it. Timber Falls, is nowhere near perfect, it has it's problems and clich├ęd moments, but for the most part it works. - Grade: B-

The opening scene of Timber Falls:

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