7 out of 10
Release Date: 7th September 2012
Director: Richard Parry
Cast: Anna Skellern, Scoot McNairy and Andrew Hawley
Devised: Richard Parry & Cast
Trailer: A NIGHT IN THE WOODS
OK, this is way better than Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows. It is pretty much the sequel any of us would have liked to see. So slavish to The Blair Witch Project is this Dartmoor set horror, I’m surprised the makers didn’t try to shoe horn it in as a third part in the cycle. Think The Fast & The Furious series where one episode is set in LA, the next is in Tokyo etc. This could be Blair Witch UK. A Night In The Woods is a competent scare fest with added back story and a bit of room for ambiguity. Where as in The Blair Witch Project the characters kind of knew each other prior to the expedition, the trio on offer here know each other all too well. They even have some secrets which come to bear before events go west.
Brody (SCOOT MCNAIRY – MONSTERS) and Kerry (ANNA SKELLERN – W/E) have been dating for six months and now live together. They decide to go on a camping trip in Wistman Woods on Dartmoor. A curious decision to invite Kerry’s cousin Leo (ANDREW HAWLEY – GINGER AND ROSA) along with them antagonises the jealous Brody. Leo and Kerry openly flirt and fool around provoking Brody to confront the pair. After an evening in a pub torn straight from American Werewolf In London, locals tell of a local legend of The Huntsman who kills sinners who get caught out on the moors. So far so crusty. Alcohol obviously heightens their emotions and the trio descend into weird and wild accusations backed up a weird homemade video collection on Brody’s laptop. Brody’s ever present camera causing and increasing levels of agro as the trip goes on but it also doubles as an obvious witness to the ever outlandish events that begin to unfold.
Dartmoor is exceptionally creepy with it’s desolate plains and rocky outcrops. It is obviously cut off and the one of the nearest regions we have resembling a wilderness in the UK. Throw in a warring trio of idiots and a terrifying local legend, only the most cynical won’t get a few chills. This aside, its one of the best found footage horror movies since The Blair Witch Project kicked off the sub-genre. It offers some mildly deranged characters and leaves them to an ambiguous fate. It’s largely improvised by the cast based on workshops ran by the director and this method serves the story well, injecting extra fear and urgency. There are a lot of tired found-footage/faux-documentaries movies like Apollo 18, Diary Of The Dead, Pimp, Big Fat Gypsy Gansgter, End Of Watch and the Rec sequels, so if you’re a fan then I’m happy to report that this stands out from the pack. Two of the cast are familiar faces, with the American Scoot McNairy soon to be seen in Brad Pitt starred Killing Me Softly. Hopefully, he’s got a few more independent movies coming along before he disappears into the Hollywood sausage machine. He’s one to watch. Australian actress Anna Skellern is equally good and her British accent is perfect. Australian actors are generally good at accents anyway. But still. The third wheel Andrew Hawley is an unknown to me but he brings creepy ambiguity and confusion to the table and does raise important questions. A Night In The Woods may even go as meta as to hint that Brody may be inspired by said sub-genre, either way it works better when you worry whether there really is something out there in those dark, dark woods?
7 out of 10 – Utterly derivative of The Blair Witch Project. But this offers a good character dynamic as well as great performances. If you like this sub-genre it delivers and is a very competent example of such. So whilst it’s totally unoriginal at least there’s chills and scares to be had. Think of it as Blair Witch 3 and you’re onto a safe bet.
READ JOE PESCI II’s counter review below!!!!
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?
- Anna Skellern: Bloodmoon, The Interceptor (TV), Gambit, W/E, 7Lives, The Descent 2,
- Scoot McNairy: Batman vs Superman, War Machine, Black Sea, Gone Girl, The Rover, Frank, Non-Stop, 12 Years a Slave, Promised Land, Argo, Killing Them Softly, Monsters, In Search Of a Midnight Kiss,Mr Fix-It, Herbie – Fully Loaded
- Andrew Hawley: Life Just Is, Ginger and Rosa