I cannot stress enough how absolutely awesome it is to have Hammer back in the genre. I have to admit, seeing that Hammer logo made me feel all kinds of giddiness when it appeared on the big screen back in October of last year in front of millions of movie goers when they sat down to watch the unnecessary remake, Let Me In. And just seeing it in the poster above for Wake Wood is pretty goddamn cool. Hammer is on a comeback.
While the film is not really original in premise, it does try to reinvent the wheel in some areas. Wake Wood is part Wicker Man, part Pet Sematary, part Re-Animator...and yet it takes things into some fresh territory through some good story choices. I wish the creators actually stuck with the originality throughout the entire running time, instead of settling for already established ideas and rehashed nuances. But, that's not to say that the film is bad. Let's talk about the good before we proceed with the issues.
The acting is great in Wake Wood. There's only really one familiar face in the film...the guy from the Harry Potter movies...or, as I know him, the cool roadie from that Rockstar movie (Harry Potter doesn't interest me). Timothy Spall plays Arthur, the village leader. The astute horror readers will know Eva Birthistle from the better than average The Children. Here she plays Louise, the mother who loses her only child. Aidan Gillen, from the awesome HBO series A Game of Thrones, is charged with playing Patrick...the father of the lost child. Usually, if you have a mediocre film the acting pretty much makes or brakes the film. Here, the acting pretty much makes the film stand out more than its low budget counterparts and takes it further into "good movie" territory.
The premise simply follows the certain formula of parents lose child due to an untimely death. Parents use some kind of supernatural resource to bring the kid back to the land of the living. The kid comes back only to become a darker version of him/herself. Efforts to exterminate the homicidal brat goes awry....the picture ends in a rather somber finale. Sequel in the works. That's pretty much the gist of the film. However, here...the film gets pretty ambitious with certain choices it makes in order to stand apart from the several films that have already walked down this same territory.
I love the rebirth scenes. The method in which the dead are brought back to life are pretty fucking intriguing in a very imaginative way. The fact that it all takes place in a village called Wake Wood with many dark secrets gives it that cult-like atmosphere which is always pretty cool. And the little twist at the end, while most have complained about the crazy ending, I actually really liked it. I thought it was just batty enough to deem as insanely awesome and cap off the entire thing as an exercise in desperate love gone wrong. It was a nice touch to a film about bringing back the dead...a usually wacky concept in and of itself.
So, those are the things I liked about the film.
What kept the film from being ultimately great was poor editing and inept directing by first time horror director, David Keating. He shoulders some of the blame for the bad in the film. While the character scenes in the film work great for establishing development and human relation, the scenes of horror and gore are almost handled with complete incompetence. Some of the exterior shots didn't really work, either...in a better film these shots would illustrate the overall ominous atmosphere of the film and set the tone of the film. Here, it just seems kinda random.
I didn't really like the soundtrack for the most part, either. While some of it was actually pretty good...most of it sounded so out of place...it just didn't seem like the music belonged here in this particular story.
I don't wanna say anything about the film in which to reveal and spoil the experience of the things that I did like from Wake Wood, because in the end it deserves to be watched with an open mind...it is a pretty good film. It's just not really that great. If you enjoyed films like Pet Sematary and The Wicker Man (original one...not the stupid Nic Cage version)...then, I would recommend this film solely for the good bits in it. It's enough to push the film into better than average territory.
It is a film that touches the core of a parent's love with its icy embrace and displays a deeper sense of desperation that the human condition is very capable of. What if you lost your child? Would you be willing to go to lengths to get back that love?
7.7 out of 10
Recommendation: Comes out soon on DVD...definitely worth a look.
Thanks for reading,