Wake Wood, where Pet Cemetery meets The Wicker Man.
Ok, so that’s probably over-hyping David Keating’s 2010 horror starring Aiden Gillen, Eva Birthistle and Timothy Spall. Thematically, however, it’s not a million miles away from accurate. Wake Wood tells the story of a couple who lost their daughter in a horrendous dog attack and who move to the sleepy little town of Wake Wood in order to rebuild their lives. Instead, the grieving couple find themselves being offered the opportunity to spend three more days with their deceased child.
But at what cost?
There is nothing particularly original about this movie. The script is fairly slow and the horrific, cultish undertones lack subtlety. That said, the performances from the main cast members elevate the piece beyond its hackneyed origins. Whilst the film is hardly fast paced or full of action, the unsettling atmosphere it manages to develop as well as the human issues raised during its course, mean that Wake Wood will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.
Gillen and Birthistle are convincing in the lead roles and whilst the plot does frustratingly tend to veer towards predictability at times, Spall’s intense and controlled madness is worth your time
Most horror movies these days seem to decide on either gore or atmosphere. Wake Wood relies more heavily on the latter and mostly succeeds in its aim. Some will no doubt struggle to make the film’s conclusion, given its pacing, but those who do struggle through will find themselves rewarded. It’s not the best film you’ll ever see but there’s something haunting about it nonetheless.
Review by Dave Coughlan