3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars
Don't go in to the woods today., 11 Sept. 2012
Ever since the success of `Paranormal Activity' and `Grave Encounters', there has been a rise in Supernatural based Found Footage films, it's about time someone revisited the open wooded setting, such as the excellent `Blair Witch Project', this is exactly what Richard Parry offers us. `A Night in the Woods' tells the story of Brody (Scoot McNairy, star of Gareth Edwards breathtaking monster road-trip movie `Monsters'), his girlfriend Kerry (Anna Skellern) and her cousin Leo (Andrew Hawley), as they go hiking in Dartmoor's Wistman's Woods.
I grew up loving Dartmoor; it is almost a second home to me. As a child I was told the myths, legends and ghost stories that surrounded Dartmoor, it was these stories that kept me awake as a child, and made me scared to fall asleep on those foggy, pitch black nights on the moors, so as you can already tell, the setting is already a plus for me. The film starts with Brody filming Kerry, asking her questions of where she was the night before and why she didn't wake him up when she got back, already we can see Brody is that over-protective and paranoid partner, following these questions; they start to get ready for their trip. Halfway through the car journey they pick up Kerry's "Cousin", Leo, from a train station, before we meet Leo, you can tell Brody is already unhappy about his presence on their camping trip, as Leo enters the car, there is awkward conversation, tension and an uncomfortable atmosphere, at this point we already know there are secrets being kept.
Our first similarity to `Blair Witch' is a scene in a Dartmoor pub where Brody is filming the locals telling Ghost stories about Wistman's woods, after hearing these stories we know they aren't in for a good night. Throughout the rest of the day, Brody is almost obsessed with filming Kerry and Leo together; his over-protective and paranoid characteristics are seeping through the camera lens. Tension starts to build more and more throughout the day, both sexual and physical, and Brody starts to ask questions, suspecting that Leo isn't really Kerry's Cousin. Secrets are shared, and it begins to get hard to trust anyone, especially after the line "It would be so easy to kill someone out here, just one push" provided by Brody as he stands on the edge of a raised rock on a moor.
Day turns to night, the camp is set up, and Brody walks off leaving Kerry and Leo to themselves, where more secrets are revealed, it begins to get harder and harder to trust the characters, mainly Leo and Brody. This is when more of the `Blair Witch' starts to shine through, noises are heard within the trees, focussing on what you hear more than what you see, eventually Leo also leaves and you are left with just a camera and Kerry. At this point you can't trust Brody, Leo or the woods itself after the stories heard earlier, and paranoia begins to take over. Not much is really seen in this film, you see first person, Kerry being followed by an unknown figure holding the camera for a good 15 minutes, which is enough to give you shivers down your spine, eventually she realises she is not safe in these woods, cue running handheld camera. The movie has its fair share of jumps, but what got me more were the noises, the sound of what can only be described as a blunt metal object hitting a hard material and screams heard from within the woods.
The performance from all three actors is great, with words and without; they clearly show tension, hidden secrets and pure fear. The trouble with knowing the background of the setting so well, is that you can't help but think what you would have added to make it better, the film is a great attempt, but Dartmoor has so much to offer, with three great actors and a perfect setting, you expect more. With such an abrupt ending (they always are with found footage films) you are left with more questions, depending on your feelings towards ambiguous endings, that's either a good thing or a bad thing, I personally love them, I love a film leaving me thinking and wanting more, but that was a problem with this film, I did want more, and with a setting that is known for people getting lost, you expect more than what is given.
`A Night in the Woods' is a great attempt at `Blair Witch' style, found footage movie, that may or may not leave you scared of going into the woods at night. I plan to watch it next time I'm in Dartmoor, maybe that will affect me more. After a lot of poor attempts at found footage films (yes I'm looking at you `The Asylum Tapes'), `A Night in the Woods' is one of the better ones.