REVIEWED BY-STEVE GENIER DIRECTED BY-PAL OIE CAST-KRISTOFFER JONER, MARKO IVERSEN KANIC, EVA ROSE, SAMPDA SHARMA and BJORN FLOBERG. SOURCE-NON STOP VIDEO DVD (NTSC R0)
Incredible thriller out of Norway, DARK WOODS or VILLMARK is truly one creepy outing. One that will have you second guessing those trips to the cottage or cabin deep in the forest. For the most part, the lead up directed by Pal Oie is quite suspenseful and dreadfully atmospheric. He toys with the viewers nerves until he brings out the arsenal throughway the second half of the film. For the most part you are left thinking who the hell is toying with the group, is it within, or someone or something else. This is truly a nail bitting experience echoing those good old 80's camp ground slashers. This isnít just some mindless thriller either, as the storyline, the build up and the total twist near the end really forge a well crafted film.
A TV producer is set to start work on a new reality tv series where people have to survive the wilderness. He starts recruiting his crew for the show by choosing four people. The first step is to have the crew go up a cabin in the middle of nowhere to see how much they can endure, vital to the shooting of the upcoming reality series they will be shooting. The show producer Gunnar lays down rules before they head off, no article are to be taken up with them, including cell phones, cigarettes and other items. This is to insure that everyone is totally concentrated on their trip and why they are there. Once there at the cabin inside a dark forest, they are stuck there for the weekend. The next day the group is split up into two groups, one will hunt for food, the other will fish for food. In the one group made up of two friends Lasse and Per stumble upon a seemingly abandoned camp site along a small pond.
Upon investigating the site, they figure it to have been left well over a month. Gunnar later tells them to stay away from the pond and from the site, but both Per and Lasse are curious and go back. Upon arriving again, they notice that certain things that were moved by the two were put back in their original placings. Shifting through the items in the tent, Gunnar shows up again as Per starts pulling a rope that is bounded to something in the water. That something is the dead body of a female. Gunnar instructs them not to say anything to the two girls and furthers by telling them that they will notify the right authorities when they leave Sunday. Something else has other ideas though, upon a series of strange and unexplainable events that lead up to the of one of the group, they scramble to try to make it back to the car to call for help. Unfortunately something there in the woods prevents them in doing so.
Atmosphere is surely the strongest aspect to DARK WOODS, and rightfully so. Shot deep in the creepy Norwegian wilderness, director Pal Oie has to be credited for not only his great story, but his vision as well. Rolling fog highlighted with small lights here and there, giving you true taste of fear. Someone lurking in the background, something that is a consist element throughout the film. Our suspect is literary hiding in the shadows, waiting for the perfect time to slay its or his prey. Still, that suspect is kept a secret until the very end as Oie throws many red herrings in here and there. This is certainly one film that will be quite overlooked and should be given more attention as it is truly a very entertaining film. Slow to build up, but once your in the know, this film really packs a punch. Like many classic thrillers that come out of the Scandinavian countries , films like Ole Bornedalís NIGHTWATCH and Laszio Benedekís THE NIGHT VISITOR, DARK WOODS is one film that is a must see for all horror/thriller fans with a taste for the different. Other aspects that really stand out about DARK WOODS are the strong and personable characters presented in the film. All are quite easy to identify with even when the storyline shifts to the horrors at hand. There is simply no loosing these characters at all and this is yet another great reason why this genre film really works well.
A few days ago DARK WOODS was pretty much unknown to me until I stumbled across it on eBay. I investigated both the film and the possible releases that are out there. As of right now, the only DVD release that I was able to find and view was the Non Stop Sale NTSC region 3 DVD. Of course this disc is presented in an anamorphic wide-screen which looks quite good. This release also has the original Norwegian 5.1 Dolby Digital surround audio with English and Chinese subtitles. There is little in the way of extras, only giving you a couple of trailers of other releases from Non Stop. I think thereís a Scandinavian DVD release, but there are no English options presented with it. Of course I may be wrong, as this was a tough one to track down.
STORY/FILM-4 BITCH SLAPS PICTURE-4 BITCH SLAPS AUDIO-4 BITCH SLAPS EXTRAS-1.5 BITCH SLAPS OVERALL DVD-3 BITCH SLAPS
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