Woods and forests have played an important role in fairy tales, folk stories and legends, through the generations. Whether it’s the helpful woodland spirits and mischievous fairies of Russian folklore, the evil witch’s gingerbread house in Hansel & Gretel or as a home for the trolls of Norwegian fable. They’ve also loomed large over many horror films over the decades; recently in The Witch, Blair Witch and The Forest. In Sean Breathnach’s new film, Beyond the Woods, they provide a mysterious and disorientating backdrop.
Seven friends arrive at a secluded house in the Irish countryside looking forward to a weekend away from it all. Except Ray (Mark Lawrence) that is, who’s angry because he’s unable do any work. Lucy (Irene Kelleher) despairs as work seems to be all he ever cares about. Then there’s the sinkhole down the road which is kicking up a mighty sulphurous stink. As the drink and drugs flow freely, old issues come to the fore; with Ray’s sudden disappearance sparking a serious of strange events.
Beyond the Woods is a supernatural horror which plays on a number of eerie and psychological elements. The setting itself is the star of the show, adding an air of mystery and danger. Breathnach, in his first feature, takes time to untangle the relationships between the friends. However, when things finally do get going it rather stutters; becoming jittery and sporadic and quite frankly not really making that much sense or working cohesively as a horror. Whilst Beyond the Woods is largely a failed experiment, it may hold some interest to genre fans.
Beyond the Woods is available on VoD now and DVD on 19 February.