British horror Dead Wood is written, produced and directed by Richard Stiles and David Bryant. It stars Emily Juniper, Fergus March, Rebecca Craven, Nina Kwok and John Samuel Worsey.
The movie begins very poorly as a group of friends head off for a weekend camping in the woods. How many horrors have started in exactly the same way? Doesn’t anyone go for a relaxing city break anymore or did Hostel ruin that?
Anyway, once there they do the usual before a young woman turns up one morning having lost her boyfriend. They agree to help her but something about this woman is a bit off. She gets very comfortable, very quickly and then the first of the group disappear.
The problems with Dead Wood are apparent almost immediately. The acting is bad, very bad and the characters are poorly written. There is no chemistry between anyone, a real problem when the movie tries to show relationship growth. Low budget or not, the lack of talent in the cast is shocking. So many scenes come across awkward and unnatural.
Considering the first half of the movie has nothing but these characters interacting, settling in the camp, having sex and getting to know each other better, it makes for a pretty horrid experience. I wouldn’t be surprised if most have stopped watching after the first 20-30 minutes.
With dialogue this poor you start to wonder if it’s being done intentionally as a form of tongue-in-cheek humour aimed at horror clichés but it’s not. Dead Wood takes itself so seriously, it’s laughable.
Thankfully it does pick up in the second half when cast start disappearing and suspicions over the camp’s visitor are raised. This is where the movie finally attempts to introduce some horror elements to iffy results.
The woman who arrived at the camp is some kind of wood witch who wants to consume them and turn them into trees. Something she’s been doing for a long time going off the size of the woods. Don’t question why, it doesn’t matter.
This does result in one well done scene though, probably where the entire budget went. It’s a huge task though to ask anyone to sit through such dreadfulness just to see this.
Dead Wood is boring, badly acted and badly paced. The story was clearly just one line, ‘people are terrorised by a wood witch’ and they then had to fill in the rest to give it a decent run-time. Wholly unsatisfying. Sadly another miss for British horror.
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