The Woods is a largely unheard of but fairly awesome supernaturalmovie that follows the tradition of Suspiria and The Wicker Man, personal favorites of mine. It’s got a suspenseful atmosphere that never falters and a surprisingly decent plot. Without further adieu, let’s go into The Woods.
The story is set in 1965, where rebellious firestarter Heather Fasulo (Agnes Bruckner, Murder by Numbers) is dropped off at Falburn Academy by her estranged mother, Alice Fasulo (Emma Campbell, The Aviator), and all too quiet father, Joe Fasulo (Bruce Campbell, Evil Dead).
It’s clear from the start that home relations aren’t the best for Heather, but being sent to an all-girls academy in the middle of a forest isn’t necessarily her idea of a good time either. The eerily calm and collected dean of the school, Ms. Traverse (Emmy winner and Academy Award nominee Patricia Clarkson), decides to accept Heather into the academy despite the fact that her father is “not as well off as he presents himself to be.” As such, Heather must first submit to a “scholarship test” that every horror fan will inwardly groan at; the genre-savvy viewer will know that this test is not simply a test of intelligence.
The school is incredibly strict and it’s not long before Heather is singled out as “different” by the popular girls at the academy. Called everything from a lesbian to a firecrotch (Google this and Lindsay Lohan’s name when you get bored – it should provide momentary amusement), Heather remains to be broken by her new arch-nemesis Samantha (Rachel Nichols, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra), who instructs her that she should go home or things will be much worse for her. It’s soon that Heather realizes something is amiss at the academy. We’re treated to wonderful ambient voiceovers from other girls in the dorm whispering things like, “Why are there twigs in my hair?” and a particularly shudder-worthy dream sequence with a few false starts that involves a pale girl sitting on a vacant bed in the dormitory. Heather tries to engage her in conversation, remarking that she has a nice bed, to which the girl responds in a low, distorted voice, “Someone else will have to sleep in it now.” Heather finds out that the girl she dreamed about is Ann Whales, an actual student at the academy who recently tried to kill herself.
Despite all of this, Heather makes friends with straight-laced Marcy Turner (Lauren Birkell, The Babysitters). Samantha routinely accuses them of being lesbians and there is a somewhat telling montage of the two girls palling around set to Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me.” There are telltale hints of a puppydoggish romance there, but without me getting into a long and drawn out debate about how some of the elements in this movie can represent a young girl’s budding sexuality (as most female-driven horror films can be), we’ll move on!
The strange happenings at the academy continue, but Heather manages to be as defiant as ever. She’s repeatedly sent to Ms. Traverse’s office and eventually put in a bizarre detention that seems to revolve around Ms. Traverse digging up painful emotions for Heather that result in exploiting the girl’s telekinetic powers. Heather is increasingly contacted by the woods outside, and begins to snoop around. Theere’s a spoilerrific origin story that pops up that I won’t go into here, but the real trouble starts when several of the students – including Marcy – go missing, their beds filled with leaves in the morning.
Read the verdict after the jump…
- Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
- Year Released:
- Lucky McKee
- Lauren Birkell, Agnes Bruckner, Patricia Clarkson, Marcia Bennett, Rachel Nichols, Kathleen Mackey, and Jane Gilchrist
- Horror, Thriller, Mystery
- Official URL: