Unofficial review sent in from the AFFF courtesy of Joris Westerdaal:
Lucky McKee’s first big studio production has got to be one of the most troubled films of the past few years. Just like Rob Zombie ‘s “House of 1000 Corpses,” McKee’s “The Woods” is taking ages to get released (due to the MGM acquisition). I remember the first time I heard about this picture is when M Night Shyamalan wanted the same title for his next movie, but eventually changed his to ‘The Village.’ When the movie was finished back in 2004 it became very quiet and it was then dumped by several studios. The movie is still in limbo as Sony has yet ot make any decisions– I don’t know why this is because I really enjoyed my visit to the “The Woods.”
The story takes place in 1965 at an all-girls boarding school in the middle of the woods where Heather (played by ‘Venom’s’ Agnes Bruckner) is dropped off by her mom and dad after being a bad girl and setting fire to a tree in her parents garden. Heather isn’t all too happy having to attend “The Falburn Academy” and she doesn’t get a warm welcome by her teachers (who were all students there once themselves) and fellow classmates either. As if things couldn’t get any worse she starts having nightmares and students begin to disappear. Soon enough Heather starts investigating and finds out there’s something wrong with her teachers and the surrounding forests.
An hour or so into the movie I started to wonder where this was going but then the pace picked up; Bruce Campbell (who plays Heather’s father) returns to the scene and Heather finds herself an axe– telling more would ruin the movie, so lets keep it at that.
Agnes Bruckner (Heather) plays her role of the bad girl getting mentally broken down pretty well and I felt bad for her at some moments, especially when she has to deal with Samantha, the girl school bully. Of all the teachers I found Marcia Bennett (Miss Mackinaw) the most memorable, she delivered some comic relief as well with her uptight behaviour and twitching head (you’ll see). Some people are really curious about how big of a role Bruce Campbell has… his role as Heather’s father here isn’t a major one but the scenes that involve him are enjoyable as long as you don’t expect him to freak out and use a boomstick like good ol Ash.
The soundtrack for the movie was mostly dominated by Lesley Gore (three songs in total) and just like in Mike Mendez’s “The Convent” the song “You don’t own me” pops up several times. The soundtrack also helps bring back the audience to the sixties and Lesley Gore’s voice just sounds a bit eerie to me. Speaking of voices, people who think that a Lucky McKee movie isn’t complete without Angela Bettis will be glad to hear that she’s the voice from the woods… she’s actually the title-character again!
Since most of the time when a movie has a hard time getting released it means there’s something wrong with it, I went into this movie quite sceptical and yet I came out surprised. ‘The Woods’ turned out to be quite good as it had some descent scares and a gory finale involving an axe and a living tree. If there ever was a movie that proves most studios have their heads planted firmly in their asses this is it. ‘The Woods’ deserves to be released theatrically and I think that Lucky McKee will, just like Rob Zombie before him, get all the recognition he deserves.