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A Night In The Woods
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Directed by Richard Parry

Starring : Scoot McNairy, Anna Skellern, Andrew Hawley

After Brody, his girlfriend Kerry and her estranged cousin Leo go on a camping trip in the UK bizarre events occur that begin to tear at the sanity of the group whilst questioning the very nature of the group's loyalties.

Review : The UK has a fine tradition of outstanding horror directors and writers and as such we hoped that we would be in for a treat this week. The film we are reviewing was released by Vertigo Films and, as the posters proudly display, they were responsible for Bronson and Monsters. We would have included Wake Wood on that poster, a horror film that all the Fever Dreamers enjoyed. In all honesty though Vertigo Films credentials aren't flawless as they were also responsible for Top Cat: The Movie and Horrid Henry: The Movie. Not knowing what to expect and armed only with popcorn, candy and sugary drinks we strode out to face the horrors of A Night In The Woods.

It won't take a genius to see that this film is a clear attempt at reproducing the scares of horror classic, The Blair Witch. The question really is whether this is an homage to a ground breaking scare or a simple rip-off. Shot mostly in the first person by Brody, a videographer enthusiast and a quality typically disliked by his girlfriend, the film follows the group as they travel around the UK countryside. The first person perspective offers a unique view of the beautifully shot and often breath taking countryside. Over the course of the film we get to see Stonehenge and Dartmoor along with a small local pub. The pub scene is reminiscent of the scene at the beginning of American Werewolf in London with the locals sharing scary stories and local legend, but the unique POV does give it something extra. Its a harrowing and eerie way to set up the events that are about to enfold but fans of The Blair Witch won't really experience anything that they haven't seen before.

Just as in The Blair Witch, we are expected to believe that the footage was located in the woods and is the last trace of the three campers. If you were one of those people who suffered intense nausea whilst watching The Blair Witch then you will be releaved to know that the vertigo/travel sickness effect is considerably lessened in this film. The actors put in good performances and I found myself buying into the events of the film quite easily. I found the characters easy to empathize with and this made the ratcheting tension a little more fun. During the back half of the film the tension between the group escalates quite quickly as we begin to see their loyalties fracturing, and this was all the more satisfying because of the time spent on their back stories. My only concern is that the dialogue can sometimes be unrealistic and you feel like the characters become a little hammy, also the excessive use of obscenities quickly becomes desensitizing.

The setting goes from wistful and beautiful to dread and doom with great ease, and as stated earlier the use of the local pub, although done to death, does indicate that their is something scary beneath the apparent benevolence of the UK. The plot does begin a little slow, there never seems to be enough focus or conflict to identify with one character alone and I often found myself drifting in loyalties between the group members. This lessened the impact towards the end of the film where, because I was less involved with the characters, I was less bothered by their deaths.

The biggest annoyance of the film was the distortions. I believe that these may have been put in deliberately to give the film some authenticity but in actuality just got on my nerves. The shots occasionally became frozen or warped and the audio could get distorted. These effects are no doubt a feature designed to increase authenticity, but after a while I just felt that there was something wrong with the actual film or the projector.

In Short : It is not necessarily the best example of its genre but its by no means the worst. I could watch it without feeling nauseous at least, but the distortion effects were just too annoying and, alongside the lack of involvement with the characters, made it difficult to engage with the film at times.

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