Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Woods

I don't normally bother with Horror Short Films.

I don't know if it's me, or if it's just a side-effect of the narrative limitations that come with making a short film, but I find them largely ineffective. They just feel weak, or tired, of put-on. They often put me in mind of the Death-Metal dude that works at the local Bruegger's Bagels, the one who's constantly throwing devil horns and making "crazy" tongue-sticking-out faces in his hairnet. It's like, "Yeah, man, you're totally super hardcore, f'reals. I'd like a Rosemary Olive Oil bagel with Plain Cream Cheese, please." Now, this particular reference may not mean anything to you, but to me...? VERY illuminating.

Get on my level.

I know, I know, don't @ me. Sure, it's definitely true that sometimes these Horror Shorts really do work. For example, take a look at this one right here, which is great. But honestly, it's been my experience that successful Horror Shorts like that one are the exception, and that most of the ones I've come across end up being much more like this one right here.

As a result, I'm a little hesitant about trying this THE WOODS out.

In this particular case, this is mostly due to the synopsis: The Woods is a dialogue-free horror short that follows a lone woman in a desolate snowscape on a quest to take care of an ailing relative.

"Dialogue-free", huh? Shit, now that's a big Red Flag. The Writer, a man known only as Remington Smith, goes on to say: "Shot in -30 degree weather using only natural light and no digital trickery, The Woods is a horror-meets-arthouse narrative about the lengths we will go to take care of family." That sentence is both filled with Red Flags, and yet admittedly is kind of intriguing too. So, maybe it's not as bad as I first assumed? I don't know, some good, some bad... It could go either way. Unfortunately though, the main Big Ass Red Flag isn't as readily apparent. I had to stumble across it. The IMDB page for the film doesn't list a Director... Is that a bad sign, or just an oversight?

I guess there's only one way to find out...

Hmmm... I don't know if I'd call that Horror, honestly.

I also wasn't expecting it to be about zombies, that was nice, even if the whole "putting your family to rest" thing is a pretty familiar angle. It looked great, much better than I assumed, but really, minus the music, what part of that would you say was all that scary? All that tense? All that gory? All that... basically anything Horror-related? Sure, there was a monster in it, but it wasn't much of a threat, and there wasn't a sense of danger so much as a sense of isolation. I also think, despite the strong performances and the clear motivations, that the family aspect could have been sold better. The reasons for her quest, or that she was even on a quest, aren't very apparent at first. She seemed to be just wandering more than she was actually hunting for a good portion of the film.

This isn't to say THE WOODS was bad or anything. It wasn't. It didn't feel overly long. It really did look great. The performances worked well, and the things that I kind of expected to work against the film, largely did not. In the end, it was a well done short film, albeit a somewhat narrative-light one.

It definitely didn't feel like Horror.


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