Valentine’s Day is a lousy time of year for the perpetually single. Mekaela and I wanted something to look forward to for once, so a few years ago we decided to have a get-together with junk food, bad horror movies, friends, and mockery.
The first entry this year for the Bloody Hearts Fest? The Woods.
The Woods had one main selling point: Bruce Campbell. I mean, who doesn’t love Bruce Campbell? I bow before the King of B Movies (and USA spy shows.) Unfortunately, Bruce doesn’t even have a speaking part in this film until well over forty-five minutes into the movie, so if he’s the only reason you’re watching, best to bust out season one of The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. instead.
The Woods is about a teenage girl in the 1960’s who’s sent to a boarding school for the . . . well . . . gifted. Some girls are awesome singers. Other girls hear the trees telling them to kill people. You know, there’s a diversity of talent. Patricia Clarkson redefines creepy as the school’s headmistress (is that what it’s called, headmistress? Or do we call it headmaster with no regard as to sex? I’m too lazy to Google.) In fact, all the faculty are pretty fucking creepy, especially one teach who we’ll call Head Twitch for hopefully obvious reasons.
Strange things start happening to our protagonist, Heather. Like, one expects to run into the Queen Bitch who runs the school (Samantha) and deal with her oddly private questions (“are your pubic hairs red too?” Like, who asks that? I think everyone at my high school would have found that freakish and gross, not funny, but who knows? I wasn’t popular.) One, however, does not necessarily expect girls to start disappearing. Or, if they do, maybe they’re less likely to turn into a bed full of autumn leaves? I don’t know. I’d find that disconcerting.
The Woods wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected it to be. That is, the script was clever and surprisingly layered at times (Samantha’s arc is a good example), and the acting wasn’t the sort of crap you expect from a B horror film . . . my God, when Bruce Campbell finally opened his mouth, he was probably the least Bruce Campbell I’ve ever seen him (no boomsticks and sugar in this movie, baby.) But while I like a movie that doesn’t feel the need to spell out every element of a mystery for you, I thought this one could have used maybe a touch of clarification on what the hell was happening. I got who the bad guys were and basically what they wanted, but a lot of the details felt pretty vague: why certain characters had to be involved, what was so special about them, just a lot of that background stuff that makes for a coherent plot. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t the kind of movie I’d yearn to rewatch, either.