wake woodHammer Film Productions
2011
R

“Go back to the trees and lie among the roots!”

After losing their only child, Alice, in a vicious dog attack, two grieving parents relocate to a small town where – to their horror and fascination – they discover a pagan ritual that will grant them three more days with their deceased daughter.  Hoping to allay their sorrow, at least temporarily, the couple decides to go through with the rite, but the larger question remains, what happens afte the three days have passed?

It’s always the ones named Alice, isn’t it?  If they’re not getting lost down rabbit holes, they’re either inspiring shock rockers, or offing people in rather gruesome ways.  Or, in the case of this here Irish ghost-ish horror flick, they’re brought back by way of ancient pagan rituals to terrorize the locals for three days or so.

Yeah, I realize that “ghost-ish” isn’t really a word.  Tell the truth, I’m not even sure this is what you would call a “ghost story”.  It’s not a zombie flick, either.  More like Pet Sematary, where the dead are brought back to life by way of some kind of pagan ritual, or something.  Okay, maybe I’m over-thinking this.  Because what we got here in Wake Wood is a supernaturally tinged Irish horror movie that is heavy on the atmosphere, uncomfortable creepiness, and yes, actual scares.  And not just from the bringing back of the dead.

Those of you who are rather squeamish from seeing violence perpetrated against children and animals might want to steer clear of this movie.  I found the first half hour or so rather uncomfortable, as we’re subjected to probably the most adorable Irish lass mauled to death by a German Shepherd (NOT off screen, either), then a rather graphic caesarian section performed on a cow, and then a man literally crushed to death by a spooked bull.  All this to lead up to the town of Wake Wood’s secret…they’ve been bringing back the dead for three days, by way of a ritual involving mutilating a corpse and encasing it in animal dung and…something something, I wouldn’t know really.  Being a Christian I tend to shy away from things like bringing back the dead by way of ancient pagan rituals and such.  But, as a plot device, it’s a tried and true one indeed.  Then we have the violence committed by Alice herself after only the second day (she wasn’t quite right for the ritual, you see, and came back…off, let’s just say).  Yeah, I think we’ve reached a new level of Creepy Kid Syndrome, here.

Overall, everything about Wake Wood just popped.  The story was engaging, the plot kept things interesting, the actors really dug into their rolls (especially the one playing Alice, I haven’t checked yet about other movies she might have been in, we might have to keep an eye out for this young up-and-comer), and the atmosphere…oh, the atmosphere was so thick and dreadful, it really brought out the chills.  Everything worked, bringing together a nice modern day folk horror tale.  The choice of ending seemed, interesting but logical to the overall story, really.  In short, I recommend checking out Wake Wood for a dark and stormy night of watching.  This is the first release I’ve watched from the recently resurrected Hammer Films, and if this is any indication of the direction they’re headed, then I wouldn’t mind seeing how things go in the future.