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Quarries (2016): Movie Review

During a nature hike, seven women encounter a group of men and must put an end to their murderous rampage in order to survive.

Written by Nils Taylor & Nicole Marie Johnson
Directed by Nils Taylor

There's a constant awareness of how unknown and vast the wildness is. It has been alluded to as its own dimension with living creatures and objects that humankind has yet to witness or comprehend. If ever there is a physical or emotional need to journey through this space, the first rule is to reverence both its beauty and danger. There are so many films that give the outdoors this credit, and horror turns up the dial on dread, capitalizing on the uncertainty with just about anything it can muster. This includes the broad depravity of humanity.

Quarries follows Kat (writer Nicole Marie Johnson) a domestic abuse survivor who arrives at the home base of a wilderness expedition business and/or organization ran by the no nonsense Jean (Sara Mornell). Joining them are emotionally distant Wren (Carrie Finklea), couple Madison (Leisha Hailey) and April (Nicole DuPort), the delightful Brit (Rebecca McFadzien) and the assured Joy (Joy McElveen) all embarking on this self-discovery type journey for various reasons through hinty dialogue and enough nuance to push the story forward. This is a fine set up, but certainly there's more to know about each of them that's not explored. Quarries is more intent on a "ladies fighting back" motif than a character study.

While likeable, each of these women have unceremonious and downright frustrating outcomes when the feral and merciless mountain men arrive. Compounding this dissatisfaction is that, while you can fill in the blanks that maybe these men are a part of some kind of freakish religious cult, there's not much on screen to indicate exactly the what's and why's of it. It's a delicate balancing act when discussing how much exposition does a film, especially in terms of horror where 'the less you know, the more scary,' needs.

Quarries is a beautifully shot, female-driven, earnest attempt at visual self actualization and inner-strength. But I worry that I can only relay personal preferences for the kind of movie I was hoping Quarries would turn out to be. Simply put, you've seen this movie before. And if that is the presentation, clusters of originality and a bit more about the women was needed. The cast do an extremely fine job of giving credence to their actions by emoting the fear, selflessness, and preservation it takes to keep the human threat at bay. Their chemistry working together was excellent. Above all, Quarries certainly does have a discussion brewing on gender and the philosophical ambiguity of our relationship to nature and the horror of it turning people against one another. It's lure can sometimes be our undoing and our most major source of resilience. Quarries excels in invoking these thoughts from everyone.

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