Mike's Review of A Night in the Woods
A Night in the Woods(2013)
I have been hearing some good buzz about this movie, since it is from the makers of "Bronson" and "Monsters", two movies that I absolutely loved, but after watching the movie I was left with a disappointing feeling.
This movie is another found footage horror film. This time we have a couple and the girlfriend's cousin exploring the Dartmoor's Wistman's Woods. Legend tells of a mysterious figure who steals witches and hangs them from a tree in the woods. Brody, the boyfriend starts to get a jealous feeling seeing how his girlfriend Kerry is acting around her cousin Leo. Once in the woods and camp is set, night befalls the group sending them, and the viewer into a night full of terror.
The beginning of the movie has a note stating this was the footage that was found from this camping trip and was edited together to tell the groups story. What starts off as a good tale eventually turns into a boring mess with a few scares near the end. Like most feature length found footage film, there is so much footage used that really could have been either omitted or trimmed down to save time and tighten the movie better. I thought there were many scenes that either went no where or just dragged the movie down and didn't let it become the movie it was trying to be. One thing the movie has going for it is the acting. The performances are strong pretty much through out the movie, especially with the female lead.
Directed by Richard Parry who is mainly know for documentaries brings to life these characters and shows that he knows how to shoot stunning landscapes and is able to convey a realism with what is being showed on screen. The film gives us a sense that this could very well be actual found footage of a band of explorers who got lost in these woods and were never heard from again. Though there is one scene that really bothered me and that was when Kerry was all by herself and looking around for Leo and Brody. There is a camera following her and shooting footage but we never know who that was. It wasn't Brody or Leo because at that time they were lost in the woods. I thought that may add a little confusion near the end of the movie. What Richard needed to work on was the pacing. It started out good with the pacing, keeping things moving a long nicely at a good clip but once we get into the woods I felt that the pacing slowed to a point where the view is left waiting and waiting for something to happen. This worked a little bit to the movies advantage when the scares came because it allows the view to let their guard down and then POW something happens and freaks you out. The problem with that is that it takes a long while before anything like that happens.
Scoot McNairy, who was in "Monsters" and the upcoming "Argo" plays Brody, the boyfriend who loves to capture everything on camera. McNairy gives a great performance of the nice guy who becomes obsessed with capturing everything on film and later on turns to the creepy side of life. I really liked McNairy in "Monsters" and enjoyed seeing him in this film. There is something honest in his acting on screen and this helps gives a genuine feeling to the characters he plays. I can't wait to see him in "Argo" as I'm sure he will give a spot on performance in that as well.
Anna Skellern from the TV series "Outnumbered" and "The Decent 2" plays Brody's girlfriend Kerry. Anna gives a very emotional performance especially near the end of the movie. Anna's character Kerry has a secret that she has bee keeping from Brody and it has to do with Leo. Anna also gives a very honest performance and gives Kerry the realism needed to make the character and what is going on with the character believable. Another strong performance from a great cast.
Andrew Hawley, recently seen in "Snow White and the Huntsman" plays Leo, the catalyst to what starts to happen between Brody and Kerry. Andrew also brings the realism needed to make this character believable on screen and gives an honest performance. The whole cast gives us their all and it really shows on screen and is definitely the movies strongest point.
This isn't the worst found footage movie out there but it also doesn't rank up there with the best of them. It's just below middle of the road for me and that really has to do with how the last act of the movie was handled. The beginning really sets up something big and works well, but the last part just fell apart and I think really brought down the movie. Yes I have to admit there were a few scares during the end but the question that remains is 'will the viewer be able to stay with the movie long enough to get there?' I really wanted to like this movie and like it a lot but I just walked away feeling more disappointment that enjoyment.
I give this movie 2.5 stars out of 5. The strong acting and the decent directing keeps this movie afloat but not by much. If you have a chance to see it and found footage is your thing then give it a shot, you might like. Till next time my friends.