The Village in the Woods

It’s almost as though the village in the woods doesn’t want to be found, the aged wooden signpost marked as Coopers Cross while the map lists it as Coppers Cross, the country road seeming to lead them in circles as they drive through the night before the car unceremoniously decides to die, forcing them to shelter under sleeping bags until the dawn reveals just how close they were to their destination.

Through the trees and the perpetual fog is the dilapidated former glory of the Harbour Inn, once the centrepiece of the village and now passed to Rebecca in an inheritance; the first problem is that the woman in the car alongside her boyfriend Jason (Robert Vernon) is not Rebecca but Nicky (Beth Park), hoping to pass herself off in order to make some money and get ahead for the first time in their lives.

The second problem is the elderly squatter upstairs, Arthur (Sidney Kean), who refuses to answer the door and is threatening when confronted, the third is the general oddness of the villagers, particularly the overly familiar Maddy (Therese Bradley), their strangeness beyond the eccentricity of country manners, and soon Nicky feels that they are on to them, possibly because Jason is constantly shouting her real name.

Directed, produced and edited by Raine McCormack from a script co-written with John Hoernschemeyer, The Village in the Woods is a low-budget British horror set largely in and around a single location, the shell of the Old Harbour which never really convinces as an easy scam for Nicky and Jason seeing as it will take more cash to renovate than they will ever make in takings in a village of apparently five occupants.

Playing off the tropes of folk horror, with endless fog rolling through the dense forest, charms hung from the branches by the peculiar locals and an upstairs room with a budget pagan totem and a wedding dress with a choker of twigs and bird skulls, the acting is stilted but perhaps as good as it can be with the script which seems to add swearing whenever a scene runs short or restating established points, Nicky and Jason having the same conversation about leaving multiple times while the villagers gurn archly.

The lure by which Nicky and Jason were brought to the village in the woods as sketchy as their plan and preparation, the eventual reveal of the true nature of the locals and the ritual they conduct every three hundred lunar cycles is a preposterous broadside of exposition parachuted in as an act of narrative desperation rather than anything which has been hinted at or foreshadowed, the atmospheric visuals of the forest and the nocturnal activities failing to compensate for the endemic lack of originality.

The Village in the Woods will be available on digital download from 14th October across iTunes, Sky Store, Amazon and Google Play



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