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WAKE WOOD [BLU-RAY]
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Reviewed by: Eric Walkuski

Directed by: David Keating

Starring:
Aiden Gillen
Eva Birthistle
Timothy Spall

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about

A year after losing their daughter to a grisly animal attack, Patrick and Louise have begun to pick up the pieces in the small country village of Wake Wood. But after they learn of an unusual local custom that enables the resurrection of the recently deceased, the couple must confront the disturbing truth that what's dead is best left dead.

Is it good movie?

A Gaelic spin on PET SEMETARY, David Keating's WAKE WOOD is another fresh entry in the revived Hammer Films filmography. An atmospheric, frequently creepy, sometimes unfortunately over-the-top horror flick that hits most of the right notes, WAKE WOOD isn't quite as good as Hammer's best (new) film, LET ME IN, but it's certainly a step above the lame Hilary Swank vehicle THE RESIDENT.

WAKE WOOD starts on a pretty disturbing note, treating us to the blurry sight of a young girl being torn apart by a vicious dog. Discovered by her parents, vet Patrick (Aiden Gillen) and pharmacist Louise (Eva Birthistle), young Alice (Ella Connolly) is gone before long. Skip to a year later: the couple are living quietly in the hamlet of Wake Wood, which is lorded over by the mysterious Arthur (Timothy Spall, always up for exuding an icky friendliness). Though the residents of Wake Wood are quaint and amiable, it's obvious most of the village shares a secret that Patrick and Louise aren't quite in on. For a time, anyway.

One night by accident, Louise spies an unusual ritual going on in Arthur's backyard; a ritual resulting in the apparent rebirth of a previously dead townsperson. Apparently, the folks in Wake Wood have mastered the art of resurrection – with a price. The resurrected party must have died within the year, and can only stick around for three days. In those three days, you get to properly say your goodbyes to your loved one, before they must depart into the woods, never to be seen again... Obviously, a perfect scenario for the still-grieving parents, wouldn't you say? (Cue ominous music.)

That's the set-up, and WAKE WOOD handles it all with an eerie dread that really works. The girl's nasty demise at the front of the flick haunts the proceedings, and the characters all wear sadness on their faces like masks. It's not an especially cheery experience, this flick, but its that grim atmosphere that helps it creep up on you.

However, the third act is where the film falters a bit. If we haven't been reminded of PET SEMETARY enough by the midway point, the last 20 minutes or so really make obvious how inspirational the Stephen King tale was. WAKE WOOD decides to include a handful of sequences of extreme gore that just feel somewhat out of place with the subtle, somber picture that came before. It shouldn't feel the need to go into “horror movie overdrive” toward the end, but it does anyway. Fans of mindless bloodshed will be okay with this; I was personally very content when the film was using its dire mood to be an effective chiller.

Video / Audio

VIDEO: As the film was shot on DV, the Blu-ray bring out a lot of grain - especially during the night sequences. Otherwise, it's a perfectly fine transfer.

AUDIO: Sound is crisp, which comes in handy during those loud jump scares.

The Extras

There's a decent amount of deleted scenes, but none of them are extraordinary. Only really of interest to people who fall in love with the film.

Trailers for WAKE WOOD and other Dark Sky releases are also included.

Last Call

This is a solid film for the most part, with engaging performances from all of the leads and a steady dose of chills from the filmmakers. It looses a bit of its effectiveness in the heavy-handed climax, but the journey in full is fairly worth it.

ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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