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Wake Wood (2009)

Wake Wood Horror Movie Review

The parents of a girl who was killed by a savage dog are granted the opportunity to spend three days with their deceased daughter.

Wake Wood Horror Movie Review


Written by Brendan McCarthy (Cherry Tree) and directed by David Keating (Cherry Tree), Wake Wood was the first film from the newly reformed Hammer Films production company. It certainly has a feel of Hammer to it, to. It is slowly paced, and if you are a fan of the old Hammer films, you'll know what I mean, and you'll probably like that aspect of it. It feels deliberate in its story telling.

One of the biggest problems the film has is it's undeniable similarities to Pet Semetary. The parents of a small girl killed by a dog move to Wake Wood, and find that the community have the power to resurrect the dead for three days - time enough to say goodbye. Obviously, it is an 'evil child' horror, so you know what you're getting from the very start. Another problem however, is that fans of Pet Semetary will undoubtedly be put off by the pacing of a Hammer film. Keating does a good job behind the camera, making for a gripping watch, but Hollywood horror, this is not. Some will also be put off by the gore elements of it too. There is graphic child death more than once in the short run time, and plenty of on screen animal gore along the way.  

I felt that McCarthy was desperately trying to make it a character piece while fitting into the mold of the old Hammer films, which makes for solid character development, and a strong story, but the pieces struggle to fit together at times.

Wake Wood Horror Movie Review

The cast is strong for the most part. Grieving parents take the lead with Aidan Gillen (Bohemian Rhapsody) doing a fine thesp job as father, Patrick, and Eva Birthistle (The Children) doing her best to keep up. Timothy Spall (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) makes a grand appearance as town leader, Arthur. Sadly, evil child Alice, played by Ella Connolly in her debut feature doesn't quite come up to the line with a pretty grating performance.

Overall it's not a bad film, and the final product is pretty good. Watching it, the pieces of the puzzle that are forced together stick out - mostly from the sickening animal gore (including the unnecessary inclusion of a skinned dog) which seems to have been included for horror movies sake, and someone forgetting that it's Hammer.

The ending has multiple twists, the first doing a good job of satisfying the ending, and the second being an oh no he didn't moment. The third (!) is awesome, and left me wanting a sequel. It's a great way to finish a film, but leaving me immediately wanting more is a problem when I reflect back to ask the question, or do I?

It's a mixed bag of good ideas, but some of them are likely to appeal to people wanting different things. Worth watching if the gore doesn't put you off.

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