Before we even get into the film, what was with the 150 production company roll call that we had to sit through before it even began? Atlas Film Home Entertainment... Exclusive Film Distribution... Irish Film Board... Vertigo Films... Fantastic Films... Exclusive Film Distribution (Again)... Vertigo Films Distribution (Different from Vertigo Films)... IFB (Again!)... Fantastic Films (AGAIN!!!)... Co-production with Solid Entertainment... "With" Film I Skane...
That only took a minute and nine seconds of my life, not bad. Does everyone on the crew have their own film company that they insisted on name checking?
The good part is, withing the next 3 minutes we see a little girl get mauled to death by a dog, and a guy cuts open a cows side, and yanks a calf from it. Looks like the movie is making up for the production company montage with some good old fashioned gore!
Wake Wood is the story of two parents that let their daughter get mauled to death by a hinky dog, and decide to move into the Irish countryside to put it behind them. I mean they couldn't stay in the same town after little Alice took the dirt nap, because you know everyone was calling them shitty parents and making jokes about them behind their backs, because that's what you do when kids die. Makes jokes. Right?
Their new home in the tiny Irish village of Wake Wood is, well, kinda creepy. Something odd is going on in the town, and it's not long before they find out what it is; you see, there's a fat necromancer who can bring the dead back to life for a three day stretch, allowing their loved ones a chance to see them one last time. Sounds nice, right? Well, it's not. Of course the newly grieving couple immediately decides to have him bring wee little Alice back, and he agrees provided that they agree not to leave town for like 5 years, and give on the spot massages to anyone in town who might request one. Sounds fair. Who doesn't dig a good happy ending on demand?
So Alice comes back and her parents are filled with joy, until they realize that something is wrong with their zombie daughter. First thing being that she's a zombie. Also, she's kinda mean and murderous, so there's that too. What exactly is wrong with Alice? Will her parents send her back when her three days are up, or elect to keep her "alive?" Is there any remote place in Europe that isn't frigging creepy? Far be it from me to spoil any of those mysteries, but suffice it to say that I'm never going to Europe, unless it's to a big city.
Definitely a return to form for Hammer Films. Wake Wood has that old school "witchy" feel about it that the hammer films of the 60's and 70's were so good at creating. It may not have carriages and rolling fog banks in every scene, but it felt creepy and foreboding none the less. It's like a mixture of The Wicker Man (1973, not the shitty remake) and Pet Sematary wherein you have a small town full of pagans that perform rituals whereby you bury your dead and bring them back to life. Whereby horror ensues. Shared elements for sure, though Wake Wood manages to take its own path and keep things fresh enough.
It's not an in your face, jump-scare filled modern day horror film in the least. Thank God.
If you've never watched Aiden Gillen in The Wire or Game of Thrones, you're missing out. Whether it's Tommy Carcetti or Littlefinger, they guy has given us two of the best TV characters of all time. He's good in this one too, and actually plays a good guy for a change. Why he isn't the next James Bond villain is beyond me. He'd be perfect. And what is it with Eva Birthistle and her love of movies that involve creepy kids? This, The Children, Daisy Chain... She likes playing a mother in distress, I suppose.
The Master Says- B+ Wake Wood is a solid film and a nice change of pace from the "horror norm." It's a creepy kid movie done Hammer style. If you need gallons of blood to satisfy your horror cravings, this movie isn't for you. If on the other hand you value atmosphere over viscera, you should be happy as a clam with this one. Not bad, Hammer. Now, make a good vampire flick for the modern age, then we'll be impressed.
Final Thoughts- She's in this.