2015 USA Film Festival: Wildlike
14-year-old Mackenzie (Ella Purnell) is sent by her troubled mother from her home in Seattle to live with her uncle (Brian Geraghty) in Juneau, Alaska. Her uncle welcomes her with kindness and the two virtual strangers try to settle into a routine of sharing a home. As contact with her mother becomes more infrequent, and the attentions of her uncle become inappropriate, Mackenzie begins to plan her escape.
On a hiking outing with her uncle, she seizes the opportunity to separate herself and flee, and soon finds it harder than she thought to escape the natural elements (sea and mountains) cutting off travel routes. Mackenzie crosses paths with lone backpacker Rene Bartlett (Bruce Greenwood) at a motel and learns he too is from Seattle. Grieving the death of his wife and seeking solace in hiking alone, Bartlett wants nothing to do with runaway Mackenzie and sets out on his backpacking trip.
After Bartlett de-boards his bus to the wilderness drop point, he learns that Mackenzie has followed him and there is nothing he can do to shake her. These two damaged people form an uneasy truce, and travel together, each slowly learning about the other’s background. When Bartlett realizes the nature of Mackenzie’s plight and that she is being pursued by her manipulative uncle, he decides to help her in her quest to return home.
Featuring terrific performances and gorgeous Alaskan scenery, Frank Hall Green’s self-assured film is both taut thriller and engrossing relationship drama.