Wake Wood is just another reminder that the best horror can be found far away from the mainstream. A joint Irish/English project that I doubt had much of a budget, Wake Wood tells the story of Patrick (Aidan Gillen; The Wire, Game of Thrones) and Louise (Eva Birthistle; A Fond Kiss), a couple whose lives are turned upside down by the shocking and sudden death of their daughter. They never quite bounce back from that loss. They keep on living their lives, but I use the term "living" very loosely. They're going through the motions simply because they have nothing else to do.
After Alice's death, Patrick and Louise move to the small town of Wake Wood. Wake Wood is one of those perfect little horror towns. On the surface, everyone is far too nice, which just makes the underlying mystery all the more apparent. The grieving couple continues to live out their daily lives when local man Arthur (Timothy Spall; the Harry Potter series) offers them a rare, seemingly impossible opportunity. Patrick and Louise then have to weigh the pros and cons of what could be a dream come true or possibly a hellish nightmare.
Now, this is one of those films where the absolute less you know going into it, the better. The general synopsis of the film, as listed by several websites, gives away what I deem to be too much. The movie can still be enjoyed, for sure, but if this review is all you've read - keep it that way!
Wake Wood is beautiful in its simplicity. There's no call for special effects, so no worrying about lackluster CGI, and the practical effects are all top notch. The Irish (and Swedish) countryside is both beautiful and haunting. The performances are all subdued and chilling. It seems as if everyone involved in the production were on the same page and the film shines because of it.
Wake Wood isn't scary in the traditional sense. You'll rarely jump; this isn't one of those movies. You will be disturbed and, at times, terrified. But fear of the unknown isn't the only fear present in Wake Wood. The film explores the question of what risks people will take to get what they want and the truths revealed about human nature are just as chilling as any supernatural fare could ever be. This is one of those films where you want to scream at the characters for being so irrational, but if you take the time to really put yourself in their shoes, you'll likely realize that you wouldn't be acting any different.
When dealing with forces outside of your control, if there are rules to follow, then follow them. You might not be equipped to deal to deal with the consequences, a lesson which was learned the hard way in this genuinely frightening film.
Guest author Dylan Duarte is a movie buff and professional writer. When he's not reviewing movies, he also writes about Halloween costumes. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks so much, Dylan! Come back any time!