I had put off seeing WAKE WOOD for quite awhile for a couple of reasons. The first being that I had been woefully misinformed that it was some kind of Irish vampire movie. Once I found out it wasn’t I still decided to not see it for quite awhile. That’s because it was a Hammer film and I love the old Hammer films and I mean the vast majority of them. From the CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN to the bitter end with HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR I enjoyed them. I’ve been a bit dodgy about seeing any of the new Hammer flicks-I haven’t even seen LET ME IN or THE WOMAN IN BLACK yet. But after giving it a go with WAKE WOOD I will see them sometime soon. I’ve heard a few people say it but now I believe Hammer is back and in fine form too.
Patrick (Aiden Gillen) and Louise (Eva Birthistle) dote on their daughter, Alice (Ella Connoly), and shower her with gifts on her birthday. One morning Alice tries to feed one of her father’s patients some of her lunch. Patrick is a veterinarian and his patient appears to be a very ill tempered German shepherd. Unfortunately for Alice the dog prefers the taste of young girl’s blood to the proffered lunch meat and it mauls her to death. Their lives shattered, the young couple move into the small rural village of Wake Wood in an attempt to come to grips with their loss and put the pieces back together.
Louise has had enough and wants out of the relationship to which Patrick agrees. As they try to leave town the car breaks down and they end up at the town leader’s house. Louise stumbles upon an odd ritual that sees a man apparently being born from some blackened mass. Once they manage their way back home they find Arthur (Timothy Spall) sitting in their parlor. You may recognize him as Wormtail from the HARRY POTTER series. He was the leader of the ritual from earlier that night. He eventually tells them he can bring their daughter back if she hasn’t been dead for over a year. The only catch is it only lasts three days. Well that’s not really the only catch. Any one who has this rite performed must stay in Wake Wood from then on so naturally the two are eager to see Alice again. Arthur punches some info into his magical abacus-not kidding-and tells them it won’t be long.
Things go awry after Alice is reborn through one of the more disgusting and bizarre rituals put to film. Patrick and Louise struggle to cope with their daughter’s loss throughout the whole of the film. Even as they have her for the three days and they do not want to let her go then. They also must face the consequences of not following the rules laid down by Arthur. WAKE WOOD is a good pastoral horror flick combining deliberate pacing, esoteric ritual, rural peculiarity and fear of the unknown.
The ritual used to bring Alice back is as disgusting as it is horrifying. The characters of the small town are interesting especially considering how little time most of them are given. The brutality of the dog mauling and the gore and viscera used in the relatively few kills are quite effective as well. WAKE WOOD leaves more questions than it answers but it appears to do so by design instead of by fault and it presents the choices made by the grieving couple as faulted but inevitable.
Keeping with the sleaze theme of the blog, my wife wanted me to point out that there is one boob in the movie. Shown in profile but that it is still a nice boob. I tend to agree. Check it out if you like moody and haunting flicks. WAKE WOOD will stick with you.