Wake Wood (2011)
★ / ★★★★
Alice (Ella Connolly), Patrick and Louise’s daughter, was killed by a vicious dog while on her way to school. Grief-stricken, the couple (Aiden Gillen, Eva Birthistle), a veterinarian and a pharmacist, move to Wake Wood to try to lead a life of normality. When Louise witnesses a strange Pagan ritual performed by Arthur (Timothy Spall) and several residents, she is later informed that bringing their deceased daughter back to life is very possible. However, given the requirements for the ritual are met, Alice can return for three days only. In exchange, Patrick and Louise must stay in Wake Wood to perform their services so they can help the town to flourish.
Based on the screenplay by David Keating and Brendan McCarthy, “Wake Wood” begins with an interesting premise but it suffers from a lack of intelligent writing and careful execution when revealing important details. As a result, when something big happens later on in the picture, supposedly connected to earlier scenes, there is no lasting emotional impact. When it should be creepy, it is bland; when it should be moving, it is maudlin.
Louise and Patrick want closure when it comes to their daughter’s passing, a chance to say goodbye properly. During the three days, the picture shows the family engaging in play, running around the woods, and expressing disbelief that all of it is really happening. There are times when the parents ask their resurrected daughter about how much she remembers from her life before–which is quite a lot. It bothered me, however, that neither parent asks a basic question. That is, if you knew someone who came back from the dead, would you not ask if there was an afterlife?
Naturally, there must be something wrong with this person–or thing–who returned. The first sign is the color of her eyes. The Alice who perished had a different pair.
The scenes that show Wake Wood residents being massacred are not enjoyable even in a trashy way. Its approach to scare or shock is all over the place. There are times when the villain has to trick a victim to go toward a dangerous area. Sometimes a weapon is involved for stabbing and hacking. And yet there are other instances when the villain appears to cut off a person’s oxygen supply via psychokinesis. I sat in my chair feeling very unhappy because the screenplay does nothing but regurgitate clichés. I glared at the laziness assaulting my eyes. I hated that the writers are so desperate, they are willing to try anything that might work. (None of them do.) I sensed a severe lack of confidence and creativity.
Like many horror movies dealing with supernatural phenomenon, “Wake Wood,” directed by David Keating, has a workable premise but it quickly degenerates into a pile of messy edits and convenient happenings like lights shutting off when something very bad is about to happen. It is not pleasurable to watch because the race to the finish is executed with a lack of energy and even less inspiration.