Film Review: Wake Wood (2011)

SYNOPSIS:

The parents of a girl who was killed by a savage dog are granted the opportunity to spend three days with their deceased daughter.

REVIEW:

Director – David Keating
Starring – Eva Birthistle, Aidan Gillen, Timothy Spall

Resurrection. A theme and plot that has been covered many times before in horror movies. So I have to give credit to the filmmakers of Wake Wood for not only keeping the film entertaining, but giving a basic plot enough of a new feel to make it seem fresh. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have the one and only Hammer films on your side, either.

So back to the theme of resurrection. What would you do if you were given the chance to bring back a loved one for only three days? This is the question that Louise and Patrick find themselves facing. Recently they lost their only daughter when a vicious dog attacked and mauled her. Overcome with grief and hoping to start a new life, they decide to move to the little village of Wake Wood, deep in the Irish countryside. Sure it might look picturesque and all but seldom do these villages have any good vibes going on, well at least in horror movies.

And it doesn’t take long for our young couple to find out that all is not what it seems in their new location. Their car happens to break down near the home of Arthur (played by the awesome Timothy Spall), the man who for the purposes of the movie acts as the leader. Not finding him home, Louise decides to check around back. What she finds going on is the townsfolk taking part in a very weird ritual. She quickly gets out of there but not before Arthur catches a glimpse of her.

And wouldn’t you know Arthur shows up at their home asking if everything is all right. Of course he knows everything, and after a tragedy happens at Patrick’s work, he informs the couple that he has the ability to bring their deceased daughter back to life. And like any good Faustian deal this one comes with some restrictions.

First she has to have been dead for less than a year. Second, she can only come back for three days. Third, they can’t go outside the boundaries of Wake Wood, which are marked by large wind generators. And last, they have to stay in Wake Wood permanently, make it their home and help tend to the animals of the village whenever it is needed. Our couple really doesn’t give it much thought and they quickly decide they want to bring their daughter back. But we’ve seen these movies before and bad stuff is sure to happen, I mean, what could possibly go wrong in bringing a dead person back to life?

Wake Wood is a solid horror movie whose plot, while not new, manages to seem fresh. The acting is above par for a horror movie, with Timothy Spall leading the way. Equally impressive are Eva Birthistle and Aiden Gillen as the grief-stricken parents who will do anything to be able to see their daughter just one more time.

The special effects in the movie are really well done, but it is the rebirth ritual that is really the highlight of the film. I won’t give anything away but let’s just say that not only is it rather complex, but the steps that are taken are at times very bizarre. What is very cool is that they show every little step that must be done. I give props to director David Keating for not taking the easy way out and just having the daughter sort of appear and cheapening the whole ceremony. In all honesty this is one of the better scenes I’ve seen in a horror movie in awhile.

I would definitely say try and catch this one if you can. The atmosphere is appropriately spooky and it never hurts to have a creepy child as well. The plot has a good twist or two and will leave you a little unsure about how all of this is going to turn out. If nothing else it will make you think twice about settling down in a quaint Irish village.

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