Getting away from it all can be a good way to clear the air, but a single mis-step (or two or three) can lead to one wishing to be back in it all ASAP. It’s easy to forget living in the densely populated Vancouver region (as I do) that most of our province of British Columbia consists of vast, unpopulated wilderness which is where the lead characters of Mountain Men find themselves.
Cooper Pollard (Chase Crawford) has returned to his mountain town home of Revelstoke to attend his widowed mother’s wedding to a new husband. He rarely visits anymore, a fact not lost on his younger brother Toph (Tyler Labine) whose weed dealing brings in more money than his stalled DJ career.
Wanting to reconnect with his older sibling, Toph convinces Coop to drive up to their late father’s old cabin as there has apparently been a squatter sighted there. With nothing out of the ordinary upon their arrival, Coop insists on being taken back to town, citing an urgent flight to a new job in Australia. But when Toph’s truck freezes up and a shockingly idiotic plan to thaw it by fire results in both vehicle and cabin being burnt to a crisp, the two brothers find themselves stranded deep in the wilderness with no one expecting them back for days.
Armed with precious few supplies, food, and an old wilderness survival manuscript penned by their father, Toph and Coop must transverse the unforgiving wilds of the Provincial interior. Being of the more urban variety, the pair are challenged to overcome the issues that have wedged them apart over the years as they face down treacherous terrain, miserable weather, bodily injuries and a mysterious figure in the distance who may in fact be the squatter they came up for in the first place.
Helmed by Cameron Labine (Tyler’s brother), the film seems as much in search of a consistent tone as it’s characters are for civilization. There are plenty of light-hearted and a few huge laughs (no spoilers here) than permeate the narrative, but these are often put off by rather jarring shifts in the other direction. The film positions itself as a story of reconciliation between estranged brothers via a survivalist trial-by-fire, but inadequate scripting leaves the final arc ringing somewhat hollow.
Matters aren’t helped by the dead-eyed presence of Chase Crawford. He damn near sleepwalks through a story that gives him so much material that never seems to register in his performance. He pretty much has to be propped up and dragged along (literally in a few scenes) by his co-star Tyler Labine who positively lights up the screen and makes you long for his superior cabin-in-the-woods films like Tucker and Dale vs Evil.
British Columbia has always photographed well and Catherine Lutes renders the interior wilderness splendidly in the widescreen frame. One can’t help but wonder however why Canadian filmmakers continue to obscure the setting for their films. The only clues we get to the film’s location are fleeting references to Kelowna and Revelstoke. Whats the point of spending all this tax money on local film production if it’s afraid to be local??
I’m often a tougher critic on B.C-based films and this is largely due to not only been born and raised here, but being a part of the film industry itself (I work as a Film editor in addition to writing for Hollywood North Magazine). We have a talented base of creators up here and I know we can do better than forgettable TV-movie level content that leaves audiences bored and unsatisfied.