Another Advance Look at McKee’s ‘The Woods’

Hey Sony… we’re waaaiiitttingggg!! While we sit on our asses here in the States just begging for a taste of Lucky McKee’s The Woods, lucky horror fans around the world have been catching screenings at their local festivals. Today B-D reader “matheson_legends” sent us in a review of the film from the Sci-Fi Channel’s third annual Sci-Fi and Fantastic Film Festival in Madrid! Read on for the skinny…Review by: Matheson_legends

The film reminded me of two european horror films from the 60’s and 70’s with quite a cult following status, THE BOARDING SCHOOL (aka THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED) and the most well known SUSPIRIA. From both Mckee borrows plot and ambience as the story revolves around a boarding school for girls where newcomer student Heather, played strongly by Agnes Buckner, arrives. Soon after settling herself on what is gonna become her new home, students start disappearing , Heather experiences some vivid nightmares and then there’s the woods, those woods that seem to talk to her.

McKee has successfully crafted a strong kick ass horror film (some scenes made the audience I saw it with erupt in outta the blue outbreaks of applause) heavy in atmosphere and claustrophobic scenery, nicely lit and full of inventive well composed shots, without falling on the overused MTV style that is everywhere in the genre nowadays. NO, Lucky McKee’s take on THE WOODS is a more old fashioned, more subtle and elegant one. Indeed, I kept thinking I was watching one of those beautiful hammer films made back in the day, and in this case works perfectly since the movie is set in one of those conservative American middle towns in 1960.

Unfortunately THE WOODS still suffers some big flaws especially editing wise. The pace is off at some points, the cuts seemed rushed in some scenes, there was an awkward feel to them, some scenes linger in limbo leaving some plot holes in the story and rendering it confusing at some parts which hurts the film especially in the climax which stills get saved from burning at the stake because of what is going on screen and of course because it becomes a splatter fest of an axe swinging girl battling forces of evil that kinda reminded THE EVIL DEAD with Bruce Campbell saving the day Ash style once more (another moment that made the audience go bonkers) and the scenes that establish the growing friendship of Heather and her classmate Marcy (one of the high points of the film is the strong performances of all the cast with special Kudos to Buckner, Patricia Clarkson and Rachel Nichols and the well set interaction shown between all the main characters that felt believable all the way through).

I don’t blame the director for that, but the producers, since Lucky got forced to make different cuts of the movie after bad test screenings reactions, which makes me think about the different taste of American and European audiences since the movie did so well at The Amsterdam Film Festival and the Sci-Fi film festival here in Madrid even after some bad moves in the changes made. Well hopefully we will see a director’s cut one day and will be able to judge to what extend that original cut really worked or not.

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