Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: Deliverance (1972)


                  A Culture Clash Drama That Really 'Delivers' On The Scares

          While I do like films in the horror genre, the kind of dramatic films that I find quite as frightening are the ones that deal with plausible real-life scenarios. Deliverance is certainly under the latter category as it already makes me think twice about going on a canoeing trip.

         Deliverance follows the story of four city men, led by Louis (Burt Reynolds), who decide to go on a canoeing trip away from their normal lives back home. However, they have a small clash with a few inbred locals which comes back to haunt them once they find themselves fighting for their lives.

        I'll start off by describing my favorite scene in the film. That scene would be the famous "Dueling Banjos" scene at the very beginning. In that one, Drew, one of the city men played by Ronny Cox, plays banjo along with a hillbilly kid and their playing begins to escalate. That scene just implicitly sets the tone for the film as a whole and foreshadows the conflict that would follow. I loved how this scene didn't require any use of dialogue or some horrific act to occur in order to establish the film's conflict.

        But one thing about the film that surprised me was how the film focused a little less on action and killings and more on the four men suffering the results of their conflict. At first, the men who come from a different walk of life from the hillbillies act superior to them, which leads to karma taking its course and these hillbillies exacting revenge. It is like nature itself taking its course and I thought that was very interesting. Plus, one scene that really had me on edge is the scene where all four of the men are going canoeing and there are these rather slithering sound effects and the men get the feeling they are being watched as they are paddling. That scene, to me, was just as scary as the famous male-to-male "Squeal like a pig" rape scene, except the scares here are much more implicit. If that was me in that position, paddling with someone potentially watching or targeting me, I would be terrified out of my wits.


       Overall, Deliverance is an edgy and scare-filled drama that deals with the urban vs. rural conflict in a rather unsettling way. I would say give it a watch because it is an essential film, but if you are a younger viewer, wait until you are about 18 or maybe 21 since the notorious rape scene might make you uncomfortable.

Grade: A

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