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as of: 10/11/06

The Woods



out of 10


Lucky McKee


Agnes Bruckner .... Heather
Patricia Clarkson .... Ms. Traverse
Bruce Campbell .... Joe Fasulo
Rachel Nichols .... Samantha
Lauren Birkell .... Marcy Turner
Emma Campbell .... Alice Fasulo
Marcia Bennett .... Ms. Mackinaw
Gordon Currie .... Sheriff
Jude Beny .... School Nurse


I'm a big fan of Lucky McKee's early body of work, including the movie May and last winter's Masters of Horror episode Sick Girl, so I went into this movie with rather high hopes.  Before I get to my short review, however, a little background is in order.  McKee first filmed this movie several years ago, and it never did see a theatrical release.  I have also heard rumors of numerous editing being done to the film, resulting in several cuts, all of which apparently failed to impress test audiences.  These facts tended to reduce my original high hopes to some extent, but I was still intrigued enough to blind buy this one.  On to the movie.

Agnes Bruckner stars as Heather Fasulo, a troubled teen who likes to start fires.  Bruce Campbell of Evil Dead fame has a fairly brief role as her father.  The year is 1965, and Mr. Fasulo and his wife take Heather Falburn Academy, run by headmistress Ms. Traverse (Patricia Clarkson).  Apparently Heather is "gifted" in some way, which we learn about after she takes a test for a possible scholarship at the suggestion of Ms. Traverse.  As Heather tries to make new friends (Marcy) and finds a new enemy (Samantha), she notices some very weird things going on.  For instance, where is Ann Whales, a girl who recently committed suicide and now has gone missing?  Why does Samantha keep picking on Marcy and Heather all the time?  And what's the deal with the woods surrounding the school?  Events soon force Heather to confront the oddities and fight to save herself and others.

I wanted to love this movie going in but had my expectations held in check by the failure of a theatrical release.  With that said, I enjoyed The Woods to quite some extent.  Others have said there was no suspense whatsoever in the film.  I beg to disagree somewhat.  I think most people are going to figure out what the main problem is at Falburn Academy relatively quickly.  But the exact nature of this problem remains a bit of a mystery until the end.  Others have said there are no scares.  I'll admit that I was never really frightened by the events in this movie, but I say that as someone who has seen more than my fair share of horror films over the years.  Lastly, the words "boring" and "slow" have been thrown around quite a bit with regard to this film.  While I do agree that the movie does plod on in some areas, it was by no means boring to me.  With all of this said, you might think I was wishy washy about the movie, and you would be right to some extent.  The fact that I liked the subject matter, the director, and even Agnes Bruckner to some extent bumped this one from a so-so 5/10 to a better than average 6/10.  I would rent this one before buying, but I do see fans of Lucky McKee and of the identity of the "big bads" (to use some Buffy speak) to enjoy and even purchase this film.  It's not the best movie of even this year, but it is definitely better than most of the horror films that have come out lately.  This one deserved a theatrical release at the very least.


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