Film review: Dead Wood

July 11, 2009 by
Filed under: Film reviews 

dead_woodA small budget movie with relatively big aspirations, Dead Wood was given a highly-rated review in DVD World recently – the same magazine that recommended Dead Birds a couple of years ago. I picked up Dead Wood hoping to repeat the satisfying experience of discovering a little known horror gem. Alas, ‘twas not to be…

There’s a strong if fairly unoriginal plot forming the foundations of Dead Wood. A brief prologue shows us a man running through the woods, pursued by something unseen, the woods alive with movement. He comes to a small river and hesitates and that proves his undoing. His girlfriend is left shouting his name as the woods darken around her. We then jump to a couple playing matchmakers for a weekend, taking their shy but mutually attracted friends camping. On the way they run over a deer and as it lays there in convulsions, they make what they consider to be the correct and humane decision, and finish it off.

Dead Wood, an independent UK production, mixes up a little Blair Witch, a possessed Asian girl with yep, long-dark hair and staring eyes, and some spliff-induced hallucinations. The atmosphere grows heavy as the four lose themselves in the woods, stumble across a rotting tent and welcome a complete stranger, (the girlfriend from the prologue) into their midst rather too naively.

I was reminded of the scenes in Evil Dead as something rushes through the trees bearing down on the campers and… and, to be honest, there are far too many references to influential horror films crammed in here, so that Dead Wood loses itself amongst the trees, as does the average acting, and the panoramic ( and possibly) stock footage of vast forests into which the group definitely did not drive. This is a shame, because when it finally gets going (40 minutes into its total running time of 82) there are some interesting and spooky manifestations of a green environment with a lust for the red stuff.

Frustratingly the reasons behind the woods going after the campers are never explained; maybe it’s a Long Weekend nature’s revenge scenario due to the deer fatality, or possibly just because the woods themselves are bad, or haunted, or polluted, or…

Regardless of some effective tree transformations á la The Guardian, Dead Wood is a trying and tedious experience for such a short trip.

[This review was originally published in the Spring 09 edition of Prism, the Newsletter of the British Fantasy Society]


One Comment on Film review: Dead Wood

  1. Martin Roberts on Mon, 20th Jul 2009 6:39 pm
  2. I too was disapointed with Dead Wood… I had high hopes for the feature length version of the movie.

    I’d enjoyed the short film version, which I’ve screened at FantasyCon as part of my ‘ShortFilm’ Showcase.

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