Review: GIRL IN WOODS

5227a1b1-1f1f-4e1d-9918-ef1518e86c75Before we even hit the 6 minute mark, GIRL IN WOODS already presents viewers with four nightmare sequences.  I even paused it to check the time stamp to make sure I didn’t accidentally skip ahead. Not a mistake. This has to be some kind of record and was worried that I was about to watch 90 minutes of this. My concerns were unfortunately proven right. There are multiple dream within a dream sequences and it gets old VERY fast.

These nightmares belong to our lead, Grace (played by Juliet Reeves), who goes to a cabin with her boyfriend Jim (Jeremy London). She verbally recounts her father’s suicide (he shot himself) and how this traumatized her for development sake. They go for a deep walk in the woods and Jim ends up being shot in the head. I assumed he shot himself by accident, but it’s not very clear initially and she runs off aimlessly into the woods screaming and having not so interesting flashbacks. Genre fans will love to see Charisma Carpenter aka Cordelia of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER fame as Grace’s strange and passive mother, but she’s not given a whole lot to work with. Carpenter is provided with only minimal screen time via flashbacks and nightmares, which is a letdown as her name can certainly reach a large fan base that hunger for more movies starring her.

GIRL IN WOODS wants to be some sort of descent into a psychological revelation, but, just like the title, it’s missing something. The script had to have been fairly short as there’s not much dialogue and she just walks with no purpose or end in mind. These scenes quickly become repetitive and might cause one to reach for their iPhone.

One big positive is the film looks like it was shot on location versus green screen or a cheap set, creating believability that Grace is indeed lost in the woods. When she hears branches breaking and leaves crunching, it offers a sense of isolation every movie set in the woods should provide. Reeves’ plays the part, but a movie like this really needs a strong presence to pull viewers in. This isn’t necessarily her fault as the flashbacks and nightmares keep interrupting any possible chance of her delivering a performance that could elevate a bare bones story like this.

GIRL IN WOODS definitely falls into one of those unreliable narrator categories as flashbacks are vague and we wonder how these connect to her present situation. She soon sees a mysterious figure running in the woods and it’s questionable if that figure is real or just some guilt manifestation from her past. People presumed dead from her past shows up and she gives such casual reactions it’s clear early on she’s not the most mentally stable. It almost feels like there was some kind of personal undertones when the script was written, possibly with mainly specific imagery in mind but that doesn’t translate to the screen clearly. It’s an interesting concept, but a different execution might have pulled it off more successfully.

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