Friday, January 10, 2014

Big Bad Wolf gone Hunting: Deep In The Woods (2000)

Deep In The Woods (Promenons Nous Dans les Bois) (France, 2000)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Marie Trintignant, Suzanne MacAleese, Maud Buquet

Deep In The Woods is a title that, while in paper, would probably sound like a typical 2000s teen slasher, starting off with a shocking murder of a mother in front of her (off camera) son right after reading him a bed time story and giving him a Little Red Riding Hood doll.

We then fast forward to some time later, with a group of five young actors hired by a baron living in an old lonely mansion deep in the woods, to stage a play for his grandson's birthday. Hinting that this might be the same off-camera boy from the beginning, the play was that of the Little Red Riding Hood, with a twist of having two heroines, two woodsmen and the ends with the wolf getting disemboweled and sewn shut with rocks filling its gut. (This was actually one of the many versions of the story's ending. These were pretty sick times if you ask me...)

Things went for the more eccentric when the baron begins to take interest with one of the young men in the group, awkwardly and intensely asking him to do things such as massaging his feet and reading him his books before going to sleep. Apart from that, the boy also stabbed his own hand with a fork during dinner, the resident gamekeeper has a nasty secret hidden in his cabin, and there's a cop who seems to have no trouble walking into people's houses, warning them about an escaped rapist.

With all of these going about, the troupe felt more and more uneasy being in the mansion, but it wasn't until one of them goes missing that they fully realize they're in grave danger. Soon enough, someone in a wolf's mask starts to prey on them, but "why?" is a question that'll tests their trusts and sanity.

"Style over plot" is a phrase best describing this strange foreign slasher; the story is paper-thin and scripted with such a high-art feel that some of these thespian's dialogue sounded so strange and confusing, if not dream-like. Direction was also done on an artsy tone, with the plot being told and edited in such a bizarre manner that it managed to make-up for its plot holes. More often than not, we see an echo of Dario Argento and Mario Bava with the heavy use of odd camera angles, long shots, symmetrical balance and color themes.

The flaws of the film can be brought up from these positives, however, since visuals are the only thing that keeps this film worthwhile time-waster, Those who are looking for a more developed story might be put off with the movie's lack of any real build as none of these characters have depth, some only appearing just for the sake of suspicion and/or heightening the kill count, leaving us with multiple suspects and very little to root for. The murders are cool but, from time to time, the movie lagged around in between, working its way to a very dissatisfying and obvious revelation.

Depending on who's watching, Deep In The Woods could either be a slasher film for the high class type, or a bore for those who just wanted to watch a brain-dead yet fun horror flick. I find myself amidst the middle, entranced by the movie's luring visuals, cool costumed killer and some pretty decent murders, but seeing it through the end, all I found was nothing but the same old bones that I've been gnawing on for years. Worth at least a look.

1 female garroted with thin wire
1 female bashed against a mirror, drowned in sink
1 female shot through with a speargun
1 male shot through the neck with nailgun
1 male impaled on a spring-loaded spikes
1 male shot on the mouth
1 male knifed on the chest, set on fire
Total: 7

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