Loop Track review – no escape for tormented hiker on horror trek to creature-feature hell

Estimated read time 2 min read

“I just wanted some quiet. But it’s so quiet out here. And all I can hear is my brain.” New Zealand hiker Ian (Thomas Sainsbury) isn’t so much a worrywart as a one-man anxiety epidemic. Out trekking solo in the forest to get away from a divorce, everything is a source of torment to this clammy-browed sadsack: his blisters, the possibility of encountering other hikers, but especially the lingering possibility something is lurking in the darkness behind him at the path’s vanishing point. Luckily, fellow wayfarer Nicky (Hayden J Weal) takes Ian under his wing.

It’s not clear if loquacious Nicky, a glucose shot in human form, is a boon companion or a further ordeal for Ian. Ditto loved-up Aussies Monica (Kate Simmonds) and Austin (Tawanda Manyimo), whom they run into at a refuge after Ian dodged them earlier down the trail. For most of Loop Track, Sainsbury, also the writer-director, builds an intriguing if evasive rhythm out of everyone’s interactions; he generally takes two steps forward into his own character’s extreme fretfulness, then one step back into Nicky’s horniness or Monica and Austin’s airhead backpacker mores. While the film hovers nebulously between psychological thriller, nervy social comedy and encroaching horror, it feels like Sainsbury knows the twitchy terrain of Ian’s headspace like the back of his hand.

What this jumpy perambulation isn’t, however, is a ruthless set-up to the creature feature Loop Track suddenly becomes in the final half-hour. Without ample tension to prop up the slightly daft mauling that follows, it means the film finishes as neither arthouse fish or genre-film fowl (more the latter though). Too bad, because it’s performed with conviction on both the satirical and earnest sides of the spectrum, and Ian – a Charlie Brown in Gore-Tex – is a memorable creation.

Source: theguardian.com

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