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What’s it About?

Brody, his girlfriend Kerry and their friend Leo go hiking in Dartmoor’s Wistman’s Woods, so named because of its legendary haunted past…

“A Night in the Woods”

Directed by Richard Parry

4 out of 10

By Vic

Well, boys and girls, here we go with another entry in the sub-genre of “Found Footage” movies. A movie called A Night in the Woods. No, it isn’t a porno flick about some couple getting in on in the forest. It is a true, real horror movie set in England. It is directed by Richard Parry (South West 9 and Gypsy Wars). It stars Scoot McNairy (Monsters), Anna Skellern (The Descent Part 2, Siren) and Andrew Hawley (Borgia) as Brody, Kerry and Leo. Brody and Kerry are a couple and they are shacking up in merry ole England. Brody at the film’s start is the obligatory “documentor” of the movie.

They talk, giggle, fool around in bed and such. What we glean is that Kerry’s Dad has passed away and she is still raw about it and can’t sleep at night. Kerry seems to dislike that Brody records everything. Isn’t there always someone like this in every found footage movie? They utter shit like “Why are you always taping?” or “What’s the deal with the camera?” or “Can you stop fucking recording everything?” Stuff like that. In this film it’s Kerry that is that person.

Ok, so where was I? Ah, yes. After the uneventful and routine intros it appears that Brody seems on edge about something but he tries his best  to become excited about a camping trip they are going on. Brody continues to record because he is so enamored by his Cam. He points it at himself a few times so we can get a close look at his rather bored and scruffy face.

They pack up the car and start to head off to the country for their trip. During this part, Parry manages to get Brody to shoot some very scenic albeit wobbly footage of the beautiful English countryside. We get to figure Brody out pretty quickly during this sequence. He’s a dick. Plain and simple. A possessive and whiney dick.

He bitches about everything and he, right in front of his girlfriend, belittles the English countryside including  Stonehenge. At this point I really start to wonder why the hell Kerry is even with this guy. Brody is aloof, offensive and a wanker. Ha, yeah,  I said Wanker.

At this point I am solely watching because Parry gets a sympathetic performance out of Skellern. She is cute. Not so demure and kinda spunky. I wanted her to let loose on Brody and straight out tell him he’s an asshole. I had to endure more mediocrity before that happened.

They drive past Dartmoor Prison and as Brody gets some shots of it I started to think that maybe this movie may open up a bit and get interesting. Well, they just drive by and nothing really happens until they pick up Kerry’s Cousin Leo who supposedly has not been around for some time. It’s established by some to and fro between Brody and Kerry that Kerry is happy to be spending some time with her cousin. Brody, rather, seems to think the whole thing dubious.

Brody continues to be an aggressive and boorish jerk not only to Kerry  (He seems to think the way he acts is a positive affirmation of his love for her) but now to Leo. Now, the film becomes an uncomfortable event as we are now involved in some weird love triangle. Brody hates Leo. Leo hates Brody. Kerry loves Brody and Leo. Blah blah blah. Let’s get to the damn woods already.

Suffice it to say by now I am very dis-interested in these kids. Why some dumb love/hate angle? I have to give Parry some credit, he does want to deepen the characterization and have us care for the group. I just didn’t buy into it. I suppose the relationship between them all was a bit pedestrian and boring. It feels like The Blair Witch Project meets All My Children at times. The only high point (I suppose) is the one part that is too fleeting and goes by fast.

After they pick up Leo they head to a local pub near Dartmoor’s Wistman’s Woods (Scary sounding place no?) while there they have a few beers or pints and get some of the local color. The Pub is full of patrons,  some more forthcoming and patient than others. Some old dude actually says “You think you’re so smart with your fancy cars” or something like that. It’s pretty funny. Kerry even asks why is the Pub full of Irishmen. Huh? Wtf? What does that have to do with anything?

Well, while recording on cell phones and Brody’s cam they listen to some random guy talk about a local legend of a “hunter” in the woods. He goes on about  myths, folklore and the such. I was waiting to see if they had a pentagram on the wall at some point ala American Werewolf in London. And to be honest it was not a very flattering depiction of the Irish. We are witness to them singing folk songs in a very transparent attempt to “deepen” the movie with some people drowning their “sorrows” in Ale. Well, maybe it quite wasn’t the highlight I thought it was.

Once they get to the woods, they walk around making animal noises, smoke pot, get wet and Kerry even breaks out in song – singing to Brody to “Put the fucking camera down” Jeez. How lame. So, somewhere throughout this boring mess we get more back-story on Leo and his tendencies towards stalking and breaking and entering. Brody confronts Leo about some footage that he has that incriminates him and they go at it for a bit but never come to blows. That would have at least been interesting. Brody never even tells Kerry anything. Huh? why not? Her cousin/ex-lover (I know, yuck) is just as much a creep as Brody. I will spare the details.

What we have here is another hokey attempt at a “Blair Witch Project” Doesn’t Parry know that if you are going to rip off Blair Witch then bring something new to the table. Jeez at one point I would have even accepted a Bigfoot or an Alien. But no, Brody goes off on his own for some reason, Kerry finds some footage of Brody being even more of an asshole and Kerry then screws her cousin again. Oh boy.

When Leo then goes off as well. Kerry then ventures on out on her own. When she does, finally, it’s just more of the same. Running from strange sounds, tripping, more running. Shaky camerawork to the point of dizziness and nausea. Then, the most unbelievable moment of the film…She takes a NAP. What???

After her nap then there is more running, tripping and screaming then we get to Leo and Brody and when we do I am already looking at my clock and wishing for it to just end. There is no suspense. No chemistry. No real story of any kind. At one point I didn’t care about ghosts and ghoulies.

It’s just another underwhelming Found Footage movie that is so blatant in it’s rip off of Blair Witch that it should have never been greenlit. I dunno. Maybe one day I’ll run through the woods with my phone cam and make a movie of me running and screaming. I’m sure I’ll be able to get it made.

Final Note – So I don’t sound like an asshole, I must give credit where credit is due. The film does attempt to make a decent build up and it is a bit intriguing to watch but it is so fleeting.  Anna Skellern also is quite decent but she has nothing to work with here but some shameless soap operatic nonsense. Too bad.

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