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The Woods(2006)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Lucky McKee

Agnes Bruckner/Heather
Bruce Campbell/Joe
Patricia Clarkson/Ms. Traverse
Rachel Nichols/Samantha
6 10
In 1965, young trouble-maker hottie Heather (Bruckner) is sent to an all-gals private school. Once there, she soon finds out that something kooky is going down with her teachers, the students (who are disappearing) and the spooky woods that surround the place. Cue in "Goblins" score? Maybe not.
Feels like I've been waiting for Lucky McKee's follow up to the stellar MAY for ages. Wait a minute, its has been ages! The film was shot in September of 2003 in my home town of Montreal, Canada. 2003! What's taking so damn long? Now that I've finally taken a stroll in these woods, was it worth the wait? Read on Chico Gonzalez!

The Woods could've been something really special. I mean it was all there! Atlas strong acting by all (Agnes Bruckner owned the screen with her well oiled chops and those big yummy lips), a Suspiria like initial premise, potent dread filled atmosphere, striking sound design (that did get overbearing at times though) and a mucho oppressive setting that made me NOT miss school one bit. For the first half hour or so, my retinas were glued to the screen in nail biting anticipation as to what was REALLY going down in this LSD house of horrors and what was gonna happen next! Problem was, The Woods never ran with what it had in its doggie-bag and just gave me the same old thing over and over and over again.

How many times can you repeat the same scenarios before you lose an audience member? With me, it was three times. I get it, the teachers are odd. I get it, students are disappearing. I get it, the chick bully is hot and mean. I get it, Heather is having odd dreams and is hearing things. Now what? Here, it was...REPEAT! Can we progress by having more info divulged as the flick moved forward please? Can we have an up of the ante on the fear/kills scenarios? Can we have the story progress as opposed to getting a bunch of fade in/fade out "filler" mini-scenes that did nothing for the narrative but pad its clock? Yup redundancy was the word here kids and since the stakes/intensity were kept at the same level for the first hour or so, that hurt the fear quota of the flick and some of my involvement in the happenings. Add to that a criminal under use of Bruce Campbell (the man has NO LINES in the first block of the film, shame...SHAME!) and an explanation that I just didn't get due to it being communicated via "distorted voices" and you get an Arrow...lost...in the motherf*cking woods.

Now that's not to say that it was a bad film by any means. It looked slicker than slick, kept my interest to various degrees throughout, was upped in quality by its tighter than a vice-grip cast (I can't praise the actors in this film enough) and FINALLY came through hardcore with its slash, slash, effect heavy finale You just can't go wrong with all kinds of axe fun, living dead branches causing a ruckus and Bruce Campbell channeling the spirit of "Ash" for a micro second to fight the supernatural. YOU JUST CAN'T! But for the love of Zod, where was the story development at for the bulk of the ride? Was it so subtle that I didn't get it or was it beaten down like a nerd at a Keg party at the script/editing stages? Cause as-is, I can take the 15 minute opening of the film, one of its disappearing scenes and the cap-off and have a groovy short on my hands. There just wasn't enough meat in this Zip Lock bag for a feature!

All in all The Woods was a semi disappointment. A well shot and compellingly acted semi disappointment but a semi disappointment none the less. Have I said the word "disappointment" enough for ya? Yes? No? Maybe? Here it is again just in case: DISAPPOINTMENT!

We get some axe fun/bloodshed for the last block and that's pretty much it, all the best, you know the rest!
Agnes Bruckner (Heather) had the presence, hot looks and talent to keep me watching and rooting for her. Props! When is our date girl? Call me! Its hard for Bruce Campbell (Joe) to do wrong in my eyes, when given the chance, he rocked hard here! Patricia Clarkson (Ms. Traverse) was astounding! Her sense of stillness and subdued intensity really cranked my dial. Rachel Nichols (Samantha) did the "bad girl" thang with sexiness and focus. Dug her the most!
T & A
Do schoolgirls walking out and about in their underwear count? YOU BET THEY DO!
Lucky McKee was on the ball for the most part with inventive shots, stylish framing, potent imagery and chilling mood galore. I did catch some editing/directing blunders now and then though. Yup, the flick occasionally felt like it was overcooked in the editing micro-wave...and from what I heard...IT WAS!
The gripping score by John Frizzell and Jaye Barnes Luckett hit the spot in terms of creepyness and surrealness. Loved it!
Amidst its finer than red wine on a hooker's breasts performances, polished visuals and impact filled sounds, The Woods was lacking something, a crucial element if you ask me or the clown hand-puppet that's snuggled over my fingers right now. And that was: a solid script. Repetitive, stalling and not as eventful as it should've been, the story here didn't go past the initial premise mark for the first hour. It needed a healthy kick in its unhealthy ass big time! Granted the whole kept me in my seat and the last block finally took it all to the next level, but I was still relatively bummed by the final product. With that said, I'll take The Woods over any crappy ass Hollywood remake any day. I'll always applaud originality and ambition when I see it! I say, you be the judge when you get to watch it cause if there's one thing that I know... I know...NOTHING! Cheers!
MAY actress Angela Bettis did the voice of the woods.

I was surprised to see one of my acting teachers in the film. Jude Beny played the creepy nurse, blast from the past. Still hate me Jude ; )

The flick cost about $12,000,000 to make.