Woodland Grey (2021)
Directed by: Adam Reider
Written by: Adam Reider, Jesse Toufexis
Starring: Art Hindle, Chelsea Goldwater, Gerardo Lo Dico, Jenny Raven, Katharine King So, Mathieu Lapointe, Matthew Giuffrida, Ryan Blakely, Tristan D. Lalla
WOODLAND GREY (2021)
Directed by Adam Reider
Screening at Grimmfest Easter 2022
A young woman decides to spend a few days alone, camping in the woods, to heal and grieve the loss of her grandfather. However, during her hike she ends up injured. Luckily for her, a man living in the woodland comes to her rescue and takes her unconscious body back to his home. Waking up in his caravan, she’s initially grateful for the man’s help, but upon discovering his secret in a locked shed out in the woods, she’s decides to do everything she can in order to escape. Unfortunately for her, the woodland has other ideas…
Contemplative slow-burn thriller WOODLAND GREY isn’t your typical movie. Blending the mundane with the surreal, we see a story unfold that continuously reveals more answers to questions whilst still retaining a shroud of mystery that allows the viewer to unpick the layers it presents.
When we first meet the characters of Emily and William, we’re not sure what has brought them to the woods. Emily is found unconscious by William, and William takes her back to his ramshackled caravan in the woods. Certain scenes leading to this point give us reason to question William and what lies within the woods, for instance the whistling that we hear. William seems to be frightened of what lurks within the trees, but at the same time it’s hard to know if we can trust him. When Emily awakens from her slumber, the tension really begins to mount as we’re unsure whether William has ill intentions towards her. The lack of conversation from William seems to make the matter worse and when he eventually does speak, he’s quick to snap at her. Stuck in the woods with a leg injury, making walking a difficult task, means Emily’s not going anywhere far without a struggle.
Most of the film plays out like a psychological drama in that we have to try and judge these people purely on how they perceive each other at that time. It’s clear William knows more than he’s letting on, but whether it’s for better or worse is a risk Emily’s not sure she wants to take.
There comes a pivotal moment in the film when a new element is introduced and that’s when things start to get weird, embracing more of the horror roots than it did before. Combine this with the isolated setting of the woods, where every tree looks just like the other, and it suddenly feels suffocating, as though the walls are closing in on this open space. Without a doubt, one could easily get lost in there. It didn’t take much to get Hansel and Gretel vibes though this story doesn’t pan out the same way as the Brothers Grimm tale.
Beautifully shot and scored, WOODLAND GREY is an inviting yet unusual experience. I found it lacking in some places, particularly as it seemed to lull throughout the middle, but the mystery of it kept me interested to find out what the heck was going on.
If you’re a fan of the folk horror style, then WOODLAND GREY may offer enough to appeal though don’t expect much shock or horror as it mostly plays on psychological and mystery drama strengths.