A Compelling, Slow Burn – Where the Woods End (Short Film Review)

This is one hell of a short film, excellent all the way throughout. Where the Woods End tells the story of a police officer who’s investigating a group of drug traffickers and appears to make a fatal error. As such, she’s suspended from duty until an internal inquiry is completed.

The central conflict comes from an officer dealing with the guilt of shooting a potentially innocent man versus her suspicions that she was right about the suspects and their family all along. It’s incredibly compelling stuff.

The main bulk of the film does feel like somewhat of a slow build. It’s the least compelling part of this crime/drama-thriller, but it does its job well in delving into the world and the mindset of an individual with blood on their hands.

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The acting is superb throughout, as is the directing. I never felt that I was seeing too much or too little. By the end of the film, I think I’d managed to grasp what the deal was with the main character and her son. I think she was divorced from the father or something, but the film never explicitly tells you so, which is nice. It probably did take me far longer to figure it out than it should have.

The ending I think was a little obvious, and the build up to it was far more interesting because you truly believed that this woman was letting her suspicions get the best of her. Her son was playing quite happily with the family of the person that the officer had killed at the start of the film, but she reacts as if they’re going to do something to him. So it came as a little disappointing when it turned out that, surprise, she was right all along.

So, whilst the ending was somewhat effective in the moment, thinking about it now, the ending would have been far more interesting if she was wrong.

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I find that it’s always a little harder to judge a film when it’s not in your own language, but from what I can tell, there’s some damn good writing here. The pacing is fairly solid, but as I say, the bulk of the film feels more like a slow burn up to the climax. It did keep me interested and engaged and I was kept in suspense throughout the entirety of the first and last five minutes of the film.

Where the Woods End is a compelling short film. It was a bit of a slow burn, but the opening five minutes and the ending five minutes were stellar. They were incredibly tense. I’m not entirely sure if the pay-off at the end was the best way to go, but it was certainly entertaining and I was hooked throughout.

3.5/5

Dir: Felix Ahrens
Scr: Lucas Flasch
Cast: Henrike von Kuick, Anna Schinz, Tom Keune
DOP: Stephan Buske, Sabine Panossian
Country: Germany
Year: 2016
Run Time: 30 minutes

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