DVD Review: Wake Wood

(Momentum Pictures)

THE resurrection of Hammer Films was a chilling prospect in its own right, as for many people the “Studio That Dripped Blood” harked back to a different era of heaving bosoms, gothic horror, vampires and werewolves. Whether it could hold its own for a modern audience was open to debate, yet thankfully new movie Wake Wood is a dark and atmospheric piece which stands up as one of the best horror films to come out of the British Isles for years.

Professional couple Patrick and Louise Daly (Aiden Gillen and Eva Birthistle) are devastated when their young daughter is mauled to death by a savage dog, and escape to the secluded village of Wake Wood, in the depths of rural Ireland, to grieve their loss and rebuild their lives.

Patrick gains employment as the local vet, while Louise starts working in the local pharmacy, but they are obviously struggling to cope with the misery which consumes their lives. After stumbling across a midnight occult ritual in the depths of neighbouring woodland, it seems that enough is enough and the couple prepare to leave the weirdness of Wake Wood behind them.

But then landowner Arthur (Timothy Spall) makes them an unbelievable offer, to bring their daughter back from the dead for three days so they can say a final farewell, only for Patrick and Louise to soon realise that there are even worse things in the world than those experiences they have already endured…

A brooding, sombre work, there is much in common here with the 1973 classic Don’t Look Now, as well as more traditional flicks like Pet Sematary, yet despite these influences Wake Wood has moments of original genius, with the dark menace inherent in the village developed through disturbing scenes of casual rural violence and the haunting realisation that being dead is far worse than actually dying.

The low budget is evident, yet by no means affects the quality of the film, as it shies away from the blood and gore of many contemporary horror movies to concentrate on atmosphere, with a developing tension that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats.

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With Wake Wood, Hammer has climbed out of its coffin and unleashed a new reign of terror on unsuspecting audiences. Long may the nightmares continue.