Wake Wood (15)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner25/03/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 89 mins

Impressively directed and cleverly written, this is a genuinely chilling British horror film with terrific performances and strong echoes of classic Hammer films.

What's it all about?
Directed by David Keating, Wake Wood is produced by the recently revamped Hammer Horror studio and stars Eva Birthistle and Aidan Gillen as chemist Louise and veterinarian Patrick, who are devastated by the tragic and violent death of their young daughter Alice (Ella Connolly). Attempting to piece their lives back together, the pair relocate to the tiny Irish village of Wake Wood, but they soon get the feeling that something is wrong and are horrified when they discover the villagers conducting what seems to be a resurrection ceremony.

After speaking to the village elder (Timothy Spall), Patrick and Louise discover that the ceremony could reunite them with Alice, but only for three days and only if they stick to a strict set of rules. They duly give their consent for the ceremony to go ahead, but both are secretly planning to keep Alice alive, unaware of the devastating consequences that might ensue.

The Good
The performances are excellent – Gillen and Birthistle have strong chemistry together and both actors convey a convincingly desperate air of sadness and pain that underlies their actions. Similarly, Spall is perfectly cast as the creepy elder and there's strong support from Amelia Crowley and Ruth McCabe as a local mother and daughter who have first-hand experience of the ritual.

Keating maintains a genuinely creepy atmosphere throughout and there are deliberate echoes of other classic Hammer Horror films, as well as the more obvious reference points such as The Wicker Man. Similarly, the film belies its low budget with some impressively grisly special effects - the ritual itself is both extremely well done and commendably disgusting.

The Great
The script is excellent, ensuring that we deeply feel what has driven Patrick and Louise to these extremes (the opening sequence is horrific and should probably be avoided by anyone with young children or a weak stomach), whilst at the same time filling us with a strong sense of dread at what is to come.

Worth seeing?
Wake Wood is a genuinely creepy British horror film that burrows under your skin, thanks to a superb script, brilliantly atmospheric direction and terrific performances from its two leads. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 18/10/2017 10:29

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