Thomas Sainsbury, best known for his comedic roles in “Wellington Paranormal” and “Guns Akimbo,” ventures into new territory with “Loop Track,” a predominantly serious wilderness horror film set in New Zealand’s Waitākere Ranges.

Ian (played by Sainsbury) is a deeply troubled man, although the specifics of his troubles remain a mystery initially. His anxiety is palpable from the outset: he’s twitchy, ignoring persistent phone calls, and nearly leaps out of his skin when someone approaches his car. Once on the hiking trail, he goes out of his way to avoid other hikers, even taking detours through the brush to circumvent them.

Despite his efforts, Ian can’t shake off the extremely chatty and obsessively friendly Nicky (Hayden J Weal), who latches onto him. That night, they find themselves sharing a trail hut with honeymooners Monica (Kate Simmonds) and Austin (Tawanda Manyimo).

From the beginning, “Loop Track” hooks us with the mystery of Ian’s anxiety and his avoidance of phone calls. Ian mentions he had his own business and was married, hinting at possible financial or emotional turmoil. However, his anxiety is so intense that he can’t sleep even after a day’s hike, and he starts sensing someone or something lurking in the forest.

The film deftly oscillates between suggesting there is an external threat and implying it’s all in Ian’s mind. Ian finds suspicious photos on a camera, but when he tries to show the others, the photos are gone. Did he imagine them, or were they erased by someone with sinister intentions?

It’s not until the final act that “Loop Track” reveals its hand, escalating into a spectacular and bloody climax. This twist, while shocking, is subtly foreshadowed earlier in the film. The last act delivers an excellent, fast-paced payoff for the tense, slow-burning buildup.

“Loop Track” was a passion project for Sainsbury, and it shows. The film is frequently creepy, with occasional touches of dark humor. The small cast is excellent, and Milon Tesiram’s cinematography makes the deep woods look as menacing as possible. The effects team also excels in bringing the film’s menace to life. A fun watch that keeps you guessing until the end, “Loop Track” is a delightful treat for horror fans.

Already released to excellent reviews in New Zealand and on the festival circuit, Dark Sky Films will release “Loop Track” to VOD and digital platforms on December 1st.