The Woods (2006)
Written By: AR
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director(s): Lucky McKee
Writers(s): David Ross
Producer(s): Bryan Furst, Sean Furst
Date Released: September 26, 2006
Agnes Brucker as Heather Fasulo
Emma Campbell as Alice Fasulo
Bruce Campbell as Joe Fasulo
Patricia Clarkson as Ms. Traverse
Rachel Nichols as Samantha Wise
Lauren Birkell as Marcy Turner
Kathleen Mackey as Ann Whales
Gordon Currie as The Sheriff
Rating = 1.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
After acting out against her mother and causing a fire, Heather is sent by her parents to Falburn Academy, a boarding school in an isolated area surrounded by woods. Due to her troublesome personality, she immediately clashes with several students and teachers and is always getting into trouble. Marcy, who took the same scholarship test as Heather, befriends her and makes her stay at the boarding school more tolerable. But as the days go by, Heather keeps hearing voices and seeing visions of girls lost in the woods. When Ann Whales, a troubled student, has suddenly disappeared, the whole school is thrown into complete disarray. Heather must trust no one and investigate the disappearances to prevent the same fate from happening to her.
There are only a few instances of gory scenes in The Woods (2006). At Heather’s first night at the academy, she saw in her dream a demonic vision of Ann Whales, with slit wrists and blood pooling at her feet. The vision grabs Heather but another girl with a bloody ax cut off Ann’s hand and swings at her too. Heather keeps seeing visions of the woods with bloody tree branches and hefty rocks. The Sheriff, while searching for the missing girls, is pierced by a massive wooden branch right through his chest. When Heather confronts the enemies at the end of the movie, it devolves into a gore fest as she uses the ax to slash everyone that stands in her way. Heads are beheaded, chests are ripped out and blood spews freely as Heather hacks her way through the witches masquerading as Falburn Academy teachers.
The Grave Review
The Woods (2006) tries to incorporate numerous plot points that is not sufficiently resolved, exemplifying that the whole is not always greater than the sum of its mediocre parts. What is it trying to be? Is it a gothic witch mystery thriller? A horrible monster movie? A slasher film? Is it a ‘00s coming-of-age teenage drama flick? By not committing to any of these genres in a movie with a frustratingly slow pace, it is unable to satisfy viewers looking for a particular kind of scare or emotion. The thing about being a jack of all trades is that you end up being a master of none. The witches are not particularly gothic, the woods are inadequately chilling, the ax scene is insufficiently bloody, and the teenage girls are unsatisfactorily catty.
Even the costume and production design are not highly representative of the decade. However, the casting ensemble is impeccably on point. The teachers, with their personal terrifying quirks, are scary not as just witches but also as strict educators employing their own brand of discipline. Patricia Clarkson as a benevolent headmistress who turned out to be an evil witch preying on her students is perfect casting. Agnes Brucker as Heather is believable as the contrarian rebel who is tough on the outside but soft on the inside. Their scenes together filled with intense dialogue are the best part of the movie by far.
At the very least, the director has perfectly captured the loneliness and fright of being lost alone in the woods at night. Soundtrack is iconic and catchy and fits the theme of the movie. But the positive aspects are not able to overcome the too many unresolved questions the audience is left to answer at the end of the movie.
For those reasons, Grave Reviews gives The Woods (2006) one and a half out five graves.
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