The Village in the Woods is a purposeful, slow-burn love letter to seventies cinema. A movie that identifies as a thriller/mystery yet holds a tone of horror analogous to ‘Wicker Man’ and other such classics. Beautiful cinematography sets the stage for a village whose residents’ eccentric behaviour intensifies a rising tension that climaxes in a dark, twisted ending.
The village in the Woods is directed by Raine McCormack, written by John Hoernschemeyer and Raine McCormack, and stars the talents of Richard Hope as Charles, Beth Park as Rebecca, Therese Bradley as Maddy, Robert Vernon as Jason, and Sidney Kean as Arthur.
The story centres around a younger couple trying to con their way into ownership of an old pub. Expecting something a little more grandiose than the dilapidated establishment they encounter in the dreary little town of Coppers Cross, Jason and “Rebecca” (part of the con) are more than disheartened, adding tension to their already tumultuous relationship. Things go from bad to worse when they learn that their goldbrick establishment has an unpopular lurker that refuses to vacate.
Rarely is a synopsis as on the money as this one is; I’d go so far as to say that it’s done most of my work for me. The film really is a very slow burn—perhaps a little too slow for the modern audience. It’s builds steadily towards its finale without breaking pace; never a cantor nor a gallop but always a purposeful, calculated trot. The cracks in the couple’s relationship and cover story mirror the crack’s in the town’s history and façade; a downward spiral through the rabbit hole that our characters cannot seem to escape nor avoid.
It is very reminiscent of the old Suspiria (1977), The Omen (1976), and Wicker Man (1973) or the newer Apostle (2018). There are elements from all these films, elements I’m not going to dive into as they would be giving a little too much away, but suffice it to say that The Village in the Woods does nothing to break new ground, rather trying to replicate a familiar feel or atmosphere, borrowing rather heavily from the film’s descendants. I’d usually complain a little at this point about the lack of originality, but the film was intentionally created as an ode to these classics, so to that end I can only truly comment that the filmmakers achieved what they set out to do.
The film delivers on what it promises. It is chilling, creepily atmospheric, and makes wonderful use of the haunting scenery. The acting is good and the characters are quite enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed Charles and Maddy, who barely try to mask their evil natures though good English manners and thinly-veiled charm. One issue I had though was that there really wasn’t a protagonist I found myself liking or caring much for. It’s hard to put your cheer hat for a couple of cons and a village of questionables. Enjoying a character doesn’t necessarily mean that you care if they survive or not.
Also, while the art style is great, the mood and score absolutely fitting, and the cinematography on point (with maybe a little excess fog) …I was never quite holding my breath or on the edge of my seat. All the elements were there, but I never really felt the tension—I never reached that willing suspension of disbelief. Whether that was the fault of the film or my own personal mental state, I cannot say for sure—but it was my biggest disappointment.
Read that synopsis again and if that’s sounds like something you’d be into, The Village in the Woods fits that to a tee. While I enjoyed the film, I found it lacking a certain je ne sais quoi and I wish I knew what it was. My vague assertions aside, there is very little to fault and I’d definitely recommend this homage to the 70s, but only if you really enjoy a good slow burn, pagan revelry, and genre film. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Trailer, poster and purchase info below.
The Village In The Woods will be available on Digital Download from 14th October across iTunes, Sky Store, Amazon and Google Play
For more information, go to : https://www.facebook.com/
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.