By Gabrielle Lamontagne
American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire, written and produced by UNH Alum of ’89, Adam “Flood” Reed, is a gory, graphic, splatter- and erotica-filled film. If that’s what entices you, this film is perfect. If you’re a little more squeamish or have heart problems, maybe stay home. The plot involves a men’s camping weekend in northern New Hampshire, near the Canadian border and a creepy set of supporting characters that allow for the plot twist that turns human life into a dangerous hunting game. There’s also a lot of psychological terror realized through rape, separation, and abandonment. The plot of this movie takes a frightening twist from mostly lighthearted comedy into the surreal and distressing events held by a mentally disturbed group of people. Inspiration for such a nerve-racking tale came from a variety of sources.
“The film is something of a hybrid horror – in that it intermeshes a number of horror sub-genres – so the idea was to introduce enough devices and conventions to create a sense of familiarity for the viewer before diverging from formula and creating an entirely new and unique narrative ride into some uncharted terrifying territory,” Reed said. In that way, it is both a love letter AND a middle finger to the genre.”
A terrifying mix of nightmare and psychological thriller with suspenseful and gruesome violence makes up the majority of this film, with a pinch comedy and poetry to top it off.
Thankfully, Reed says he enjoyed his life in New Hampshire. The reason he chose to film a horror story here, is that, “[he] began to give careful consideration to which kind of story/genre might best suit our individual and collective talents and sensibilities… [B]efore [he] knew it, [he] was in full-blown pre-production on a horror film set in the backwoods of the great Granite State,” said Reed.
Reed, who wrote, cast, directed, produced, edited, and did even more for this film, enjoyed writing and viewing the final product more than directing.
According to Reed, “writing some of the more intense and explicit material allowed me to mine dark, disturbing corners of human instinct and behavior – and that’s almost therapeutic. The creative writing process is cathartic in that fashion. Finding ways to meld the puerile behavior with heavy themes and juxtapose manmade terror against natural beauty are what made writing this script particularly challenging and rewarding,” whereas he preferred collaborating with cast and crew more than the internal battle produced by “simultaneously acting as both producer and director.” Overall, he especially enjoys the finale of the film, which “features the violent collision of several major characters and themes.”
While some actors in the film were chosen in Reed’s mind as he wrote the script, others, such as lead Dayo Okeniyi, auditioned. Actors in this film came from both the West and East coasts, as Reed considered people that he worked with and knew in Los Angeles as well as back home in New England, while also holding auditions. In fact, supporting actor Mike Apple is also a UNH Alum. The film’s crew also was taken from both coasts and of various experience levels.
Reed admires and is grateful to his cast and crew working on a low-budget production, as he said, “We were a bare bones group – a skeleton crew in the strongest sense – and everyone worked tirelessly, sometimes in cold, wet, uncomfortable conditions.”
Reed advised aspiring writers, producers, directors, videographers, and entrepreneurs of all sorts to, “Do the work…It’s that simple. You don’t become a true master of any craft unless you devote a lifetime to it – so don’t attempt to climb Everest before you’ve put on your pack and laced up your boots.”
He added that a little rejection shouldn’t shut down your dreams, saying, “Use your head, follow your heart and trust your gut.” Luckily, it seems UNH provided him an inspiring atmosphere. In fact, two scenes from Slew Hampshire were filmed on UNH campus, with University permission of course.
This film is twice as creepy as any other movie you’ll find out there today, possibly including Carrie and Psycho. Also: look forward to further films from this uber-creative former Wildcat.