Writer/Director Jeremy Benson takes the helm in Girl in Woods, and wow. It was a fascinating ride! There’s a style reminiscent of Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist and an atmosphere to match. Girl in Woods takes a unique spin on traditional horror tropes, especially the final girl aspect. It offers an incredibly original story that will have you guessing just where in the hell it’s going all the way until the final frames of the film! High praise I know, but it’s not without it’s faults.
Girl in Woods stars Juliet Reeves as Grace, a woman with some serious troubles in her past. She’s joined by her real-life husband Jeremy London as Jim, Grace’s significant other. Then there’s Mama played beautifully by Charisma Carpenter. Charisma’s Mama shows us exactly why you do not ever want this woman mad. Seriously, you’ll feel every time your mother ever yelled at you in anger in Charisma Carpenter’s face.
Grace (Reeves) and Jim (London) are headed out on a nice quiet weekend at a cabin in the woods. Nice and innocent, and the start of about half the horror movies ever made. This is probably the last time you’ll see traditional horror in action for the rest of the film. As they head out we are quickly introduced just a little to some of the issues Grace is grappling with from her past. That’s one of the things I really liked about the film, how quickly it gets to the action. In the first 11 minutes or so there’s a couple moments that grab your attention and set the pace for things to come.
Through a series of flashbacks we get to see a bit more and a bit more of Grace’s background. Although, through a series of unfortunate events, Grace winds up in the woods alone and miles away from anything and anyone. It is absolutely fascinating watching her descent. Watching the demons of her past affect her present. You know those times when you watch a slasher flick of some kind and you’re screaming at the screen, “What the hell are you doing?” at a character making poor life choices? That’s here, but not in a way that you’d expect. It’s like an introspective of WHY those characters make those poor choices.
It was really impressive watching the descent into madness. There’ jump scares aplenty and a mystery that runs throughout. I don’t want to give away too much because the journey is definitely worth the trip! The cinematography was fantastic. Excellent framing, editing. A very well put together movie. Except for a couple things….
I only had a couple gripes with the film. Which really is much better than it sounds. There were a few awkward lines of dialogue. Clearly meant to explain certain actions that were immediately coming up. I don’t mind them too much, but these were a bit too prominent for my taste. The one thing that really stuck out though was the dialogue recording. There were several times where important lines were nearly drowned out by either the score or the ambient sounds. I really wish they had spent a bit more time with this. There are other times where it’s painfully obvious the dialogue was recorded in a studio, and the p-pops weren’t accounted for. I understand it’s low budget, so I won’t knock it too much for this. However, I am very excited to see what Jeremy Benson can do with a larger budget!
I would highly recommend Girl in Woods. It was an extremely well done cautionary tale, and if there’s a sequel I am in wholeheartedly. Final thoughts? Charisma Carpenter absolutely steals every scene she is in, it was great seeing Jeremy London again, Juliet Reeves has a great handle on the things that drives this character, and someone needs to give Jeremy Benson a real budget and free reign!
Girl in Woods Premieres on Cable VOD and Digital HD June 3rd
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