Jarv’s Schlock Vault: The Woods
Listen very closely, fire-crotch
Jarv’s Rating: 1 Chang- polished and clearly accomplished, but unfortunately more boring than golf.
This film has taught me three valuable lessons that I shall forever carry with me: 1) Bruce Campbell makes an awful lot of shit, 2) Witchcraft movies are fundamentally boring, and 3) PG13 horror is a complete and utter waste of time. I did, admittedly, already suspect this, but it was nice to have it confirmed for the small price of 2 hours of my life that I’m not going to get back.
This film is obscenely overrated, and I’m almost certain that it is because it is Lucky McKee’s follow up to his grossly overrated May. The studio knew they had a dog on their hands, so did their best to bury it, but it did eventually see the light of day on DVD. Sometimes the studios do know what they’re doing. When I was doing my cursory research into this (well trying to find naked pictures of Agnes Bruckner) I read hundreds of reviews of this and almost all of them were hugely laudatory. I can only assume that I saw a different film to everyone else, because the film I saw is staggeringly lame, impressively dull, completely without atmosphere, hackneyed to the point of irrelevance, and a complete waste of Bruce.
The Woods is set in the 1960’s at a boarding school somewhere in America. It is run by a coven, and the witches are in thrall to the spirits of the less-than-spooky forests that surround the school. New girl, Heather, has been exiled to this soulless environment by her parents for setting fires, but it turns out that she is the key pupil with magic powers that the witches have been waiting for to complete the ritual and allow the spirits of the woods life. What this actually involves are a few less than spooky incidents, a couple of tedious deaths, and a climax as forced as a hooker’s fake orgasm.
This is clearly a polished film. There’s an impressive sheen to it, and it is a highly professional production. All the acting is good (Patricia Clarkson in particular) although Agnes Bruckner’s default expression seems to be some kind of grumpy scowl. The Chin is his usual professional self in this, and he far outshines everyone else on camera- however, he’s just not in it enough to maintain interest.
That will do complementing this piece of shit, it’s time to take an axe to it.
This is a boring film. It completely fails to generate anything resembling atmosphere, as they think that the setting is in itself intrinsically frightening. It should be, but McKee didn’t utilise it properly. There’s no point whatsoever setting a film in a creepy house in a creepy wood if you then spend the vast majority of the film in the daylight watching the principal character in lessons or at lunch. This is no way to build atmosphere. Furthermore, the witches have unintentionally comedic character traits that are obviously meant to be sinister, but are actually just laughable. One in particular twitches between sentences- this is not frightening.
To make matters worse, this is a PG13 horror film. Therefore atmosphere is absolutely paramount as there is going to be nothing in the way of gore. McKee (or the studio) made the decision to go for this rating, whereas there are moments in this film where gore is clearly required (one involves an axe). So we’ve got no gore and no tension- I can only state that The Woods is an abject failure as a horror film.
Also, the writing in the film is absolutely terrible. There are vast swathes of repeated dialogue, unlikely character behaviour, it’s grossly predictable, and there are sequences that just are insultingly obvious.
This is a short review, because there is nothing of interest in this film to talk about, and I don’t want to redundantly state “this is boring” until the reader gives up, so overall, would I recommend it? Absolutely not. If you really must watch a PG13 horror film then I’m sure there are better examples out there than this obscenely overrated turdfest.
I honestly haven’t outright disliked a film as much as this one for a long time- it’s just a dire and pointless film. After this and May, it will be a long fucking time before I watch a film with the words “directed by Lucky McKee” on it- I’ve honestly got better things to watch (such as The Pit) than this, which I stand a good chance of actually enjoying or at the very worst getting a few laughs out of.
This film is shit.
Until next time,