Monday, October 16, 2006

The Woods (2006)

The Woods was quite a pleasant surprise, though the film did have its problems. The film, especially the answer to the mystery, is predictable and some parts are a bit baffling. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the film very much.

In the 1960s, Heather (Agnes Bruckner) is dropped off at an isolated all-girls boarding school by her unfeeling, selfish mother (Emma Campbell) and doormat of a father (Bruce Campbell). Heather is sent here because she tried to burn down her own home. Her mother is exasperated with her behavior and wants to be rid of her. Heather is taken in by headmistress Ms. Traverse (Patricia Clarkson) and given a special test, which contains many strange markings and symbols, to obtain a scholarship. Heather just blows it off, but to her surprise, she passes the test and is given a scholarship.

Heather soon befriends strange outcast Marcy (Lauren Birkell), and makes an enemy of the popular girl, Samantha. Heather soon begins to hear strange voices that seem to originate in the woods that surround the school. She has nightmares of a student that attempted suicide as well as visions of girls in old fashioned garb being chased through the forest. She learns that many years ago, three girls appeared out of the woods and were taken in by the school. The other students tormented them and it was discovered that they were witches. After being mercilessly chased through the forest and beaten, the three witches gain control of the other students through witchcraft and chop the headmistress to bits with an ax.

When Heather's friends begin disappearing and strange things occur, she wonders what evil is at work in the school and the woods and sets out to uncover the mystery.

Again, this movie has some flaws, but I still enjoyed it. The small details used throughout, like leaves in the teacher's hair and vines that permeated the school grounds inside and out, really add to the mysterious atmosphere. I also like the fact that the cast was mainly female. The actors all do a good job, especially Patricia Clarkson as the icy headmistress and Lauren Birkell as Marcy. Bruce Campbell's portrayal as Heather's father is very different than what most people are used to seeing him in, but, it's Bruce Campbell and I think he makes anything more enjoyable just by his presence.

There are some definite creepy moments in the film, but hardly any big scares. I prefer a pervading creepiness to cheap, jump scares, though, so it works just fine for me. The ending is a bit of a mess and I wish Heather's powers were used more in the film, but the strong acting, characters and eeriness won me over in the end.

Lucky McKee is the director of this film, and he also directed the quirky and disturbing May. I loved May, and while The Woods doesn't have its black humor, it is still a very fine film by McKee. If you are a fan of May, or enjoy atmospheric horror, I would definitely check The Woods out.

On Amazon!

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