‘Wilderness’ a pulpy drama about infidelity and revenge: review
“Wilderness” is a pulpy drama filled with revenge, infidelity, and murder.
The six-episode Prime Video thriller, now streaming, is based on a novel by B.E. Jones and follows British couple Liv (Jenna Coleman) and Will (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), who embark on a road trip through the American West including Las Vegas and the deserts and canyons of Arizona.
The opening scene is a close-up of a black widow spider, just before it’s crushed by Liv and Will, driving a powder-blue convertible.
“If you’d have seen us that day, you’d have hated us,” Liv says in a voiceover. “This perfect happy couple. Charming husband, loving wife, everyone fulfilling their roles…” which sets the tone for a story where nothing is as it seems, on the surface.
This vacation is a trip that Liv has always wanted to go on, and Will is finally taking her as a way to make amends after she discovers that he cheated on her with a colleague.
Liv, however, has a different goal in mind, and begins thinking of ways that their trip could become fatal for Will … while seeming to be an accident.
Her vengeance plans become more complicated when they run into Will’s affair partner, Cara (Ashley Benson), and her clueless boyfriend, Garth (Eric Balfour), while they’re hiking in Yosemite National Park.
The cast is good, especially Jackson-Cohen, who is in his element playing yet another man who oscillates between being charming, tormented and sleazy. He’s played shades of similar characters in “The Haunting of Hill House” and “Surface,” and even told The Post, “I seem to be a go-to guy for toxic men.”
Coleman simmers with quiet rage that occasionally bursts out, while Benson and Balfour make for solid supporting players.
Coleman also supplies occasional voiceover, sardonically stating things like, “It turns out the whole forgiveness shtick, being the better person… well … kind of stuck in the craw.”
The tone of the show alternates between being a moody relationship drama about a fractured marriage full of betrayal and lies and veering into pulpy territory, with occasional bouts of sudden violence and murder.
The theme song, Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do,” suits the show, but also makes it feel more suited to a teen drama on Freeform or The CW (and feels a bit awkward for characters in their 30s).
“Wilderness” is slick and stylish and has clear aspirations to be akin to “Gone Girl” — but it’s more conventional or, maybe, it’s just a tad predictable and rides the wave of stories trying to emulate that movie.
There are twists and turns as it unfolds, but some of the story beats are overly obvious.
For instance, when Liv discovers the extent of Will’s infidelity, she conveniently stumbles on a sex tape of him with Cara, stating his intentions to leave Liv, sort of like the protagonist in a detective story stumbling on a folder neatly labeled, “Here is the top-secret conspiracy that you’re trying to uncover!”
Nevertheless, despite its faults, there’s a lot to like here in an entertaining drama about infidelity, revenge and a road trip gone awry.