The Woods

Private school, deadly lessons.

Mystery Horror Thriller
91 min     5.7     2006     United Kingdom


In 1965 New England, a troubled girl encounters mysterious happenings in the woods surrounding an isolated girls school that she was sent to by her estranged parents.


Wuchak wrote:
Good plot and haunting ambiance, but mediocre story and weak characters RELEASED IN 2006 and directed by Lucky McKee, "The Woods" chronicles events in 1965 New England when a troubled teen (Agnes Bruckner) is dropped off at a spooky remote boarding school for girls by her estranged parents (Bruce Campbell & Emma Campbell). Weird, witchy things ensue. Patricia Clarkson plays the dean while Lauren Birkell and Rachel Nichols play fellow students, one nice and the other mean. This is a mystery/horror flick that combines “Suspiria” (1977) with elements of “Carrie” (1976) and “The Ruins” (2008) or “Man-Thing” (2005) (yes, I realize “The Ruins” came out later; I’m just trying to give people an idea of what the movie’s like). The haunting atmosphere and the Montreal location are very good, as well as the unsettling creepiness. So the plot is a winner, the film looks good and there’s an effective darkness, if that’s your thang. Unfortunately, the story is underwhelming. It’s too ambiguous and feels incomplete, like a half hour of events were cut from the runtime. The hints of levitation and telekinetic abilities don't amount to much, nor do the leaves on a bed. The characters are either underdeveloped or unlikable, except for maybe the protagonist (Bruckner). All we know about Heather is that she recently set fire to something and there’s enmity between her and her self-absorbed mother. The father is a pushover. We don't learn much about them or anyone else at the academy. Marcy provokes pity while Samantha is too over-the-top as the villain. You’re more curious about WHY she’s so mean than anything else. With all the young females available, the filmmakers drop the ball by not taking advantage of these resources (and I’m not tawkin’ bout nudity or sleaze). The emotionless deliveries of the all-female faculty don’t help, but I realize they were written that way to create a sense of oddness and it works. The witchcraft elements are decidedly subdued, which I liked; the focus is on the formidableness of the forest itself (hence the title). Speaking of which, the woods F/X in the last act are well done. THE MOVIE RUNS 1 hour 31 minutes and was shot at McGill University, Montréal, Québec. WRITER: David Ross. GRADE: C
Kamurai wrote:
Good watch, could watch again, and can recommend. While I'm going to say that this movie was over-hyped quite a bit, it is good, but I don't feel like it really does anything specifically special. It has a high level of good, but there is little I can see that would put that up to great. There are some scenes later in the movie as information is revealed that might surprise the audience, but I don't see it really as "scary" moments. This is more of drip-fed information investigation movie with and all girls school, coming of age story, but the one thing it is clear it is trying to do, it tips its hand fairly early. While I didn't find that detracting from the movie (it does add a bit of creepy atmosphere to the story), it could be a stronger reveal later. Ultimately worth the watch, just go with low expectations.