Synopsis: Four men from the city of Atlanta, GA, go on a canoe trip to see a remote wilderness in the country before it is flooded by a new reservoir.
• A dark, disturbing gauntlet of a film.
• All those involved might as well have all but gave their lives to make the film as perfect as it was.
• The cultural divide between urban and rural people was fascinatingly depicted.
• There were no true heroes or even antiheroes; there were only very different people coming together in disastrous ways.
• The creation of a new reservoir was a rare but effective backdrop.
• Some viewers watching more superficially might assume the film depicted stereotypes, when not paying attention to all the cultural details.
• The darker themes of rape and (to certain points of view) murder might be too much for some.
This film has structural elements reminiscent of weird fiction, particularly in its depiction of a dark journey toward a devastating end. Indeed, Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space (1927) was set in the backdrop of a town soon to be flooded by the real-life Quabin Reservoir in Massachusetts. And like in the Lovecraft story, Deliverance ended with the false hope that the madness depicted would be completely washed away by a new reservoir. At the same time, the loss of homes played a key role at the emotional level in the film. First, the largely good and honorable residents must find a way to be happy by leaving their lives, and then, arrogant city-folk randomly show up to see all they were about to loose. It might have been bad luck that those city-folk crossed paths with the worst of the locals, but that frustration of these locals’ lives changing forever certainly increased their ferocity toward the interlopers. That, of course, did not make the decision to rape and likely plan to kill someone right. Those city-folk were right to defend themselves. But in the end, the city-folk, too, lost all or a part of themselves to a place soon to be gone. The true strength of the film was making the viewer think about the painfully difficult choices made, and if there was any other way the journey could have went.
Rotten Tomatoes — 93%