Wake Wood

Dir: David Keating
Star: Eva Birthistle, Aidan Gillen, Timothy Spall, Ella Connolly

Following the death of their young daughter (Connolly), savaged by a dog, Patrick (Gillen) and Louise (Birthistle) move to the small town of Wake Wood, where Patrick gets a job as the vet to local squire, Arthur (Spall). On the way home one night, their car breaks down and on heading to Arthur's house for help, they find a strange pagan ritual taking place, and that's far from the only unusual event taking place in the town. It turns out that the locals have a key that can temporarily unlock the doors of death, bringing them back for a strictly limited period - particularly useful in the event of sudden death, where there was no chance to say goodbye. In other words, cases like Alice's. Of course, as always with such things, there are conditions that must be strictly obeyed to fulfill such a pact, and limitations on its effectiveness: it's not long before, first, the locals, and then the parents, realize that the returned Alice is not exactly the same loving daughter they buried.

It starts off well: nice to see a more positive portrayal of paganism, which here is used to help people, rather than sacrifice them, and Spall is an excellent choice as the village leader. However, the longer this goes on, the more obvious this gets, and by the end, both parents are behaving in ways that seem logical only in horror movies terms, even allowing for the whole "distraught mother" thing. It's never made clear why the returned Alice is behaving in the way she does, beyond it being necessary for the plot that she do so, and the creepy atmosphere, quite well-generated over the first half, is squandered as it instead parades out a series of clichés, mostly recycled from better movies. Of course, the entire concept is little more than The Monkey's Paw given a fresh coat of paint, by someone who is clearly fond of Don't Look Now and The Wicker Man . While there's nothing intrisically wrong with that, it doesn't bring enough variety to the table to be more than a satisfactory time-waster.

[July 2013]

Wake's world... We're not worthy...
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