An Invitation To The Woods: A Review

“We have a certain way of doing things around here and you better figure out what that way is or there are going to be serious consequences,” is a leitmotiv that shows up twice in the film and serves to make the audience squirm a bit. I don’t want to delve any deeper into the plot of the movie; it’s somewhat predictable, but the movie is so great as a whole that you won’t mind how it turns out. It’s quite the ride to the end and the unexplained elements in the film really do little to hamper the progress of the plot.

The Woods (2006), Rachel Nichols

Indie darling horror director Lucky McKee directs a more than able cast, though the character of Heather was one of the biggest bummers for me. It was sometimes hard for me to feel sympathetic for her when she’s just so blank in some of the scenes. I think the real issue lies within the script; Heather wasn’t given enough of a defining personality beyond “the bad girl with an occasionally snarky line.” Agnes Bruckner works wonders with the material she has, and I give her kudos for that.

Patricia Clarkson is nothing short of brilliant as Ms. Traverse, but it’s Patricia effing Clarkson. The woman can do no wrong. If anything, we should want to see this woman in more horror films, because it’s a genre that she should certainly have a lot to offer to.

And no, I’m not forgetting to mention Bruce Campbell; his part is somewhat small in this film, but he provides a certain (perhaps unintentional) comic relief by being the aloof dad, up until a certain point… and then he’s suddenly pretty damned badass, as if we would expect anything less from him.

The Woods (2006) Screenshot

I feel like the soundtrack deserves a special mention. Frequent McKee collaborator Jaye Barnes Luckett does an amazing job of creating the perfect, almost operatic music to go with this film. Even if you take away the film, you have one seriously creepy set of music that could probably make picking posies in a field feel undeniably weird. The only actually well-known songs are by Lesley Gore, and even if that’s not your bag, they too only add to the whole piece as opposed to being out of place or misused.

The art direction, sets, and directing in general is nothing short of perfection here. McKee is clearly settled in and in his full element; everything is spot on. This is the type of movie where you can feel that a director is hitting his peak. McKee has made the film Red, an adaptation of the Jack Ketchum novel, and The Women, another indie circuit that piqued both interest and controversy when it was released. Since McKee’s debut film, May, his directorial skills have only gotten stronger and this is yet another hit for him.

The Verdict: [rating:3]

If you’re looking for a quick fix movie that will leave you satisfied, let The Woods entangle you. It’s a worthwhile view for fans of old horror elements given new leaf… err, life.


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