Scary Movie Review: Clearcut (1991)

Title: Clearcut
Release Date: 10 September 1991
Director: Ryszard Bugajski
Production Company: Cinexus Capital Corporation

A white lawyer from Toronto, Peter Maguire (Ron Lea), represents an indigenous community in a remote region of an unnamed Canadian province against the logging company that is clearcutting the forests to build a new road.  Peter visits with the tribal leaders on a First Nations reserve, none of whom seem particularly impressed by his promises to make an appeal.  Upon meeting an Indian man named Arthur (Graham Greene), Peter offhandedly suggests the solution is capturing the company’s plant manager and skinning him alive.  Peter is shocked when Arthur abducts him and the plant manager, Bud Rickets (Michael Hogan), and takes them both into the wilderness for several days.

The movie is a psychological standoff between Peter and Arthur, while Arthur also physically tortures Bud.  While there are scenes of graphic violence, they are nowhere near as frequent or intense as I expected.  The horror of this movie is more of a slow burn building of tension.  If I interpret it correctly, the main point of the story is to resolve Peter’s impotence and inaction because the plot resolves when Peter finally takes action.  There are also indications that Arthur may be a mythical trickster figure, Wisakedjak, and that the whole movie could be something Peter sees in a vision. But nothing about this movie is that clearcut (pun fully intended).

Greene is terrific in his role as the menacing antagonist who also makes a lot of sense, and Greene has described this as his favorite part he’s ever played.

Rating: ***1/2