The Village in the Woods is not, as you would perhaps expect, about a woods-based village, but instead a woods-based pub; The Pub in the Woods perchance? Perhaps not as snappier a title but more honest nonetheless. The pub in question is The Harbour Inn, a country boozer conveniently set in the middle of persistent fog with a creepy single enigmatic occupant.
Enter Jason (Vernon) and Rebecca (Park), the latter being the sole heir to the pub, who intend on reviving the now-closed hostelry back to former glories. They are greeted by a key-holding pair of upper-middle oddballs in Maddy (Bradley) and Charles (Hope), who set up the premise for all subsequent characters; Black Hole Sun-esque smiles, over-friendly with undercurrents of threat, you know the deal.
When we find out that Jason and Rebecca are perhaps not being as honest as first thought, paranoia starts to prevail as Maddy and Charles also start to have their doubts. Bring in Arthur (Kean), the strange chap living on his own in the pub who starts to give annoyingly vague warnings of doom to the hapless new couple.
The Village in the Woods is evidently an ode to all 70’s horror b-movies and, bearing that in mind, it’s not a total disaster. The acting is wooden at times, the slow-motion dream sequences cringeworthy, the characters all plucked from a million other like-minded films, but it never pretends to be anything greater than a late-night time-filler. In other words, it knows its place. The film attempts to locate itself in the same orbit as The Wicker Man, Endless or Midsommar with some supernatural shenanigans thrown in, but sensibly never has the confidence to say it out loud.
The ending has at least had some thought behind it, and at a thoroughly snappy 82 minutes, it doesn’t outstay its welcome. Given the utter horror-textbook garbage that is ceaselessly puked out by the streaming studios, The Village in the Woods isn’t too bad, but unfortunately, it lies way below the psychological and social commentary of the new wave of horror from the likes of Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Us or Joon-Ho Bong’s latest Parasite.
Director Raine McCormack is also on screenwriting, music and production duties here for his first directorial feature which is quite a feat, and the results are certainly something to be built on. The Village in the Woods is not a classic but gives enough interest for its short running time to keep you from reaching for the Netflix menu.
Dir: Raine McCormack
Scr: Raine McCormack, John Hoernschemeyer
Cast: Richard Hope, Therese Bradley, Robert Vernon, Beth Park, Sidney Kean
Prd: Justine Dowsing, Raine McCormack
DOP: Jamie Hobbis, Berndt Wiese
Run Time: 82 minutes
The Village In The Woods will be available on Digital Download from 14th October across iTunes, Sky Store, Amazon and Google Play