Filmed in North Carolina by the Landsburg Co. in association with Cinematigue and CBS Entertainment Prods. Exec producer, Alan Landsburg; producer, Kay Hoffman; co-producers, Denise DeGarmo, Randy Ritchie; director, Colin Bucksey; teleplay, DeGarmo, Ritchie, Landsburg; Physically rugged, outdoor suspense thriller is a tightly coiled camper’s worst nightmare: terror under the stars or, in this instance, being kidnapped and assaulted by a crazed rapist/killer running amok in the woods while posing as a cop.
Production understands exactly its visceral denominator and what it wants to do — that is, exploit the fear of death and sexual violation in an isolated forest. Omitting a minor rub for weak peripheral performances, it generally delivers on the primal goods.
As the hostage/victim, Justine Bateman captures credible survival instincts, veering between acquiescence to her captor’s sexual abuse and gritty resistance (including foiled escapes and a plunge down a rapids and over a deafening waterfall).
As the misfit terrorizing her, Joe Penny plays to the hilt a stringy-haired, unpredictable, desperate Dennis Hopper-tainted character. It’s the sort of demented, movie-stealing role many actors would die for.
Movie’s strongest feature is director Colin Bucksey’s action sequences from a script credited to exec producer Alan Landsburg and co-producers Denise DeGarmo and Randy Ritchie and based (what else is new?) on real-life events.
Contributing to the creepy, dysfunctional mood are handheld closeups and the maniac’s edgy female companion (the stressed-out Valerie Landsburg) with whom he fornicates regularly — on a log, in a rushing river … anywhere. Weirdly dependent, she simmers with jealousy, toting around two young children and serious problems of her own.
Complementing Bateman before he breaks free and essentially disappears from screen is the heroine’s camper boyfriend (Matt Mulhern).
In a scene objectionably wrenching, the young man is forced to endure the off-screen rape of his girl friend while banging his head in agony against the side of a pickup truck. The moment’s impact is excessively offensive, particularly following the young couple’s opening romantic interlude, and seriously tests the industry’s recent Congressional pronouncements regarding violence on TV.