An Irish indie horror that has a synopsis way better then the actual film is, Beyond the Woods was written and directed by Sean Breathnach. It stars John Ryan Howard, Claire J. Loy, Irene Kelleher, Ross Mac Mahon, Mark Lawrence, Ruth Hayes and Seán McGillicuddy as a group of friends reconnecting at an isolated cottage in the woods.
If that sounds like any horror movie ever… hold on. What makes Beyond the Woods stand out is the extra caveat of what is nearby. A mysterious fiery sinkhole that has recently opened up and is giving off such a stink of sulphur that locals are called it ‘The Gates of Hell’.
That’s just local superstition though… right?
Give me hell. I love a good hell related story. The idea of humanity being assaulted by demonic forces direct from Satan’s home always appeals. Especially when it’s done with subtly allowing the imagination to take hold. Beyond the Woods has subtly, mainly in how characters act and change as the film goes on. As though something evil and wicked is influencing them. However, while that is a good thing it never makes it perfectly clear that the change in character behaviour is based around that.
We get very little detail about them before they arrive so it’s hard to work out just who is acting differently and why. A good example is the couple who invite their friend (whose girlfriend just happens to be in another room) to join them for a threesome. Is this normal behaviour for them? Or is it something out of character because of the sinkhole?
By the end it’s not made any clearer as the film descends into bog-standard slasher-style horror. Characters picked off by something demonic and unable to escape their surroundings. It’s as boring as it sounds and not helped by how unlikable most of them are.
We do spend a ton of time with them but it’s not what you would call development. Instead, it’s just friends getting drunk/high together and talking nonsense. Realistic as that’s what most people do when hanging out but it doesn’t make for an exciting watch.
No fault of the actors though. Solid work here by all and each bring something distinctive to the table. It’s just a shame it all feels like such a waste by the end. It’s not satisfying in any way. It’s slow, bland looking and lacks scares and tension. A definite miss of a movie.
Beyond the Woods
The Final Score - 5/10