A Night In The Woods
September 7, 2012 (UK)
: September 7, 2012 (UK)
Directed By: Richard Parry
Scoot McNairy as Brody Cartwright
Anna Skellem as Kerry Hastings
Andrew Hawley as Leo
By Ian Watson
Repetition may have dulled the effect, but the ‘found footage’ format, done well, is still capable of harnessing the camera’s limited perspective to deliver a you-are-there immediacy as well as a few well-orchestrated jolts, which is what A Night In The Woods, with some success, attempts in its closing moments.
Repetition may have dulled the effect, but the ‘found footage’ format, done well, is still capable of harnessing the camera’s limited perspective to deliver a you-are-there immediacy as well as a few well-orchestrated jolts, which is what A Night In The Woods, with some success, attempts in its closing moments. Trouble is, you have to sit through the rest of the film to get there.
If you’re the kind of viewer that takes a deep breath whenever a group of interchangeable characters decide to film their excursion into the middle of nowhere, you won’t be enamoured of Kerry (Anna Skellern), her boyfriend Brody (Scoot McNairy) and her creepy ex Leo (Andrew Hawley) who, while hiking in the northwest of England, spend most of their time bickering, leaving us wondering if this is a movie or an amateur video documenting a bizarre love triangle. By the time events (finally) take a turn for the sinister, it’s tough to care too much about anyone onscreen, so writer/director Richard Parry ups his game and delivers a reasonable facsimile of The Blair Witch Project as Skellern charges through the woods alone with only the camera’s light for guidance.
Blair Witch may have missed its chance at greatness when its characters began whining and behaving in stupid ways, but it had the kind of pacing and invention – to say nothing of freshness – that its successors mostly lack. Its ironic that one of the biggest criticisms of the movie was that its camera was never still, because here the camera’s pretty much static during the first forty minutes, making for an experience too similar to watching someone else’s home movies. Or Paranormal Activity.
When the movie does shift into high gear, Parry handles the action better than all the character stuff, staging it more effectively than similar efforts of recent vintage, so it’s no surprise to discover he has a background in documentary filmmaking that included following war photographer Robert King around Iraq and Afghanistan for 2008’s Blood Trail. Of all the directors who’ve delved into this overcrowded subgenre in the last few years, Parry is one of the few to emerge with a well-made movie with decent performances. It’s just a shame that it isn’t more entertaining.