Imagine being 14 years old and responsible for both your own life and your father’s survival. Stranded in the snowy, remote Montana landscape, David needs to act swiftly. Daylight is running out. He isn’t ready to give up.
Walking Out is an American adventure drama directed by Alex and Andrew J. Smith, based on the short story written by David Quammen. The film sees urban teenager David (Josh Wiggins) journey to rural Montana for his annual holiday with his father, Cal (Matt Bomer). Not used to living without his phone and Wi-Fi signal, David is hesitant to join his dad on a hunting expedition that will drive them deep into the wintery and isolated wilderness.
Cal helps David brush up on his shooting skills, showing him how to take down birds, before the hopeful big kill—a moose. As they ascend into the mountains, Cal struggles to establish a connection with his son as he recounts the story of his own first kill. He explains how this happened on what was to be the last hunting trip with his own father (Bill Pullman), before he died, but conversation between them feels awkward. However, after a brutal encounter (a major plot twist, I must say) that leaves both of them with serious injuries, they have no choice but to form a bond in order to survive.
Freezing, famished and exposed to roaming predators, the pair attempt to reach their land rover car—their only chance of survival—before it’s too late.
Walking Out began slowly and it was a while before any action took place. While particular scenes were interesting and humorous, I found myself bored and wanting something engaging to unfold on screen. When the film reached its climax, it goes downhill in an instant for the characters, but rises in conflictual drama and intensity for the audience. From here on out, the only concern that matters is survival, and this leaves the audience speculating endlessly about what is waiting for them just around the corner.
David is torn in a constant state of making serious, life-threatening decisions that will determine if they make it out of the harsh environment. Whatever he decides, he risks putting his wounded dad in jeopardy. Nonetheless, David knows neither of them can survive in the unforgiving and icy temperatures that surround them and must find shelter—fast.
Will they stumble across more danger? Or will Mother Nature grant them a desperately needed miracle?
The director of photography, Todd McMullen, did an immensely admirable job, capturing the picturesque Montana scenery in all of its savageness and tranquillity. The film’s stunning mountain backdrops and strategically framed aerial shots, enhanced by wide camera angles and panning shots, highlight the beauty of this bleak, but striking, environment.
We witness a strong development in David’s character as the plot unfolds; in an instant, he takes control, and the situation at hand brings him closer to his dad in a way that he never thought would have been possible. This new father and son relationship makes for a compelling watch that will resonate with most audiences who crave human drama and intensity.
This well-crafted, small indie film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance last year, and was described as “beautiful to watch” by the New York Times. So, I can assure you that won’t be walking out of any session of Walking Out, so grab a friend and get down to Cinema Paradiso in Northbridge.
Walking Out is screening exclusively from April 5.
Image sourced from latimes.com.