Eyes Of The Woods seems to have been a short flick with incredibly bad acting but a great monster that was then expanded into a full length film with not so bad acting and a great monster. Trouble is, you’ve seen the monster so there’s no longer a surprise. Which is a pity because the real movie has some great potential even if it doesn’t have a particularly new storyline. But let’s get back to the start.
Our film kicks off in 1547 with a bunch of incredibly bad actors pretending to be Puritans. After the death of his child, Christopher Wicker makes a pact with the devil, trying to get his kid back. Of course things don’t quite go to plan and Wicker is possessed by one kick arse demon and proceeds to decimate the little village of Knob’s Creek.
All this is in Sepia and while the demon is awesome, the acting is high school amateur hour. Cue modern day and colour. Now I’m assuming this is the ‘completion” stage but since I couldn’t access the special features, which include producer and director commentary, it is just a calculated guess.
We follow five teenagers in a van who get lost on the back roads and find themselves stranded in the woods. Making the best of a bad situation they camp for the night but one of them (Kelly) goes missing when a dead girl summons her into the night (as they do). Being city kids the teens spend the following day wandering around lost until they realize the landscape itself is changing on them. Lakes disappear, roads are gone, the woods are playing games with them. There are other campers out here too and when a topless blood splattered blonde drops in on one couple we soon realize that Wicker is still out there, still seeking revenge and still picking people off (just very bloody slowly). In a nice twist the heroic boy, the one you think is going to save them, gets picked off early which makes it at least a little more interesting while you try and navigate the confusion. The kids keep discovering strange things, blood soaked campsites, a tree with pictures all over it of missing kids, a monster chowing down, all the sort of stuff you expect when you are out in the woods. Meanwhile Kelly and the dead girl are trying to put daddy’s soul to rest and Kelly has to perform the same ritual that Wicker did all those centuries ago.
I’m guessing the surprise ending won’t be a surprise to most of you.
This is a film that shouldn’t work but for some strange reason, once you’ve forgotten the intro that is, it somehow does. Helped by the great over the top acting and comedic chops of Johnny Merino as Winter, a rich city braggart who is totally out of his element in the wild and by Elizabeth O’Brick (The Shadows) as Alison the obligatory tough chick. It’s a confusing film, disorientating and jumbled and the plot holes are huge but it all adds to the feel of the film and hell that Wicker monster is worth it alone.
We are talking old school fx here, no CGI or computers, just good old fashioned, let’s design a monster suit territory. And for that if nothing else we should be thankful. Pity that the disc wouldn’t allow me to access the extras and that there were ‘glitches’ along the way and I’ve gathered from other online reviews it’s a common thing. Hopefully Lost Empire can fix the problem.
Available on R1 DVD from MVD Visual.