Home Page > Movies Index (w/mixed oldies) > > Movie Review

This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Bad Moon Rising

Deadfall Trail (2009) on IMDb

Plot Overview


The opening is a narration on an answering machine left by a seasoned camper to a neo­phyte embarking on his first survivalist trek. He's expected to play it back upon returning three weeks later after having been transformed by his experience. We hear the remainder of it in all its irony after the movie (and their trip) is over.

crucifiedPaul (Cavin Gray) a wilderness trail tenderfoot overcame his situational fears when he survived a fall from a roof when he was younger, landing on his feet unharmed. Since then he has not balked at various nature adventures despite a modicum of danger involved. He is not likely to panic in the woods, but his pride and over­con­fi­dence might be his undoing when he is slow to follow critical instructions.

happy family lifeSeasoned survivalist John (Slade Hall) has gotten married and started a family since his wilderness excursion days. Let's not begrudge him a little peyote on this one. As novelist Martin Clark once put it for one of his characters:

I tried it about two years ago when we were skiing in Colorado, okay? I've smoked maybe three times in the last nine months, including today. When exactly would I have the chance to [eff]ing do it, what with a third-grader in dance and soccer and an average of fifteen new contracts to review every day? Don't be such a scold. Pot's legal in many places. The people have spoken. It's a treat and rare reward and probably better for me than beer. (62)

His wife (Rosalie Michaels) is all encouraging (“Be safe.”) Nevertheless, men generally try to avoid dangerous endeavors once they're married. There are other people depending on them now. And these guys are going deep into the wilderness with­out the trappings of civilization. It's not altogether certain they won't find them­selves in serious trouble.

boy diving into poolJulian (Shane Dean) is the third party on their trip. He's a knowledgeable survivalist who takes to the wilderness because he feels a lack of control back in the “real world.” In the woods he knows what he's doing. Except when he doesn't and then he takes a hit of peyote to seek guidance from Mother Earth (Katrina Matusek). He dives right in with her. She acts out some primal advice seemingly right from her perspective. The problem with taking any kind of drug, though, is one cedes some control to it.

In short, this trip is a recipe for disaster.


These three fellers work their regular jobs most of the time, partaking of middle class life with its rewards and tribu­lations. (Eccl. 3:9-10) “What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.”

(Eccl. 3:11) “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” Our three guys get to observe the serene beauty of nature as they go along, but despite some experience navigating it they don't know it all.

(Eccl. 3:12) “I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.” Laid back John keeps reminding Paul that strict Julian is “good people.”

(Eccl. 3:13) “And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.” They get to experience survival in the raw, eating and drinking directly from the land as if from the hand of God.

(Eccl. 3:14) “I know that, what­soever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.” Julian keeps spouting that every­thing that has happened to them, good or bad, was “meant to be.”

(Eccl. 3:15) “That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.” They are all running away from some­thing in their past, which is bound to catch up to them sooner or later.

(Eccl. 3:16-17) “And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” Some decisions made are morally ambiguous if not out­right question­able. It's best to take the fall back position of leaving any ultimate judgement to God. Some things just needed doing as they came up.

(Eccl. 3:18-21) “I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they them­selves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?”

There's some poignant photography towards the end portraying humanity in his elemental state. Their discussions had touched upon how they wanted to die (“in my sleep”) and after­wards (“we have to bury him.”) Particularly interesting was their belief that, “When we catch and eat this boar, his spirit is going to be with us when we face our demons.” The line gets some­what blurred between man and beast, and the guidance from the Mother Earth entity identifies man as the latter, along the lines of a restaurant scene in Clark:

A small mouse is stuck in a glue trap, the little animal both alive and disinte­grating, its fur and skin missing on its mired side so that I can see its organs and coils of wan, milky guts. Its upward eye blinks. Its free pink foot spasms and jerks. I feel a profound pity that quickly gives way to anger. I take down the trap, and the adrenaline shock makes my hands shake and sears through the damaged path in my mouth and face.

“Blaine!” I shout.

He peeks around the corner. “Yeah?”

I show him the trap. “What do you know about this?”

He comes toward me. “Oh, damn. Diabolical. That poor mouse.”

“Did you put this on the shelf?”

“Hell, no, Lawyer Kevin. I'm no villain. That shit's Luther's Idea. When Izzy closed the other night, she told me Luther'd seen some droppings and set a regular trap, but it kept missin' the target, so he went full kryptonite. Man, I had no idea how they worked. You can buy this kind of torture in a store? I'm no mice fan, the little sneaks could land us in trouble with the health department, but this is heartless.”

“Listen,” I tell him. “Take this thing outside, end its suffering and toss the whole mess in the dumpster.” I rest the glue tray and perishing mouse on top of a broken microwave. (125–6)

(Eccl. 3:22) “Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?” There is an implied lesson towards the end of the film that they were better off in their workaday lives and shouldn't have concerned them­selves with getting ahead of the curve on where they think mankind is headed.

Production Values

” (2009) was directed by Roze. It was written by Roze, Josh Staman, and Candace Rose. It stars Shane Dean, Slade Hall, and Cavin Gray. These three leads kept up their adventure-boy roles sans flagging until the bitter end. Dean was the strongest of the three. The film was shot in Northern Arizona, in the Pinion Forest area.

It's not rated, but FYI it contains violence, profanity, adult situations, and nudity. Tari Segal's wide­screen cinema­tog­raphy makes it picturesque par excellence. And Jason Camiolo's lively score engages the audience big time. The low budget special effects in the dope scenes were pretty cool.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

Here's a film to make one take stock of his helplessness apart from civilization. There is no real villain in it except for the demons within. It's a cautionary tale for extremists of any ilk and a good fright flick.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action scenes. Suitability for children: Not rated, but not child-friendly. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Don't watch this movie alone. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Clark, Martin. The Substitution Order. Copyright © 2019 by Martin Clark. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2019. Print.

Lagomarsino, Valentina. Exploring The Underground Network of Trees – The Nervous System of the Forest. Tree illustration by Hannah Zucker. This work by SITNBoston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Web.