I Held A Seance To Contact The “Spirit In The Woods” — And Got No Answer

Posted: August 1, 2016 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Under normal circumstances, a “found-footage” horror flick made by an amateur writer/director with an unprofessional cast for $6,000 (drummed up by means of a Kickstarter campaign, no less) in rural Ohio is something that I’m gonna root for. Tell me that it was shot in 2014 and still hasn’t even managed to find its way onto even DVD, much less Blu-ray, and I’ll be doubly interested. But at the end of the day, some films remain undiscovered for good reason, and Anthony Daniel’s Spirit In The Woods — which is now streaming free on Hulu and for a few bucks on Amazon — is definitely one such effort.

At its core, what we have here is a barer-than-bare bones Blair Witch Project rip-off that seems to think that if you just strip-mine that premise off all suspense, intrigue, characterization, and cleverness, you’ll somehow come out with something watchable at the other end, and if that makes any sort of sense to you whatsoever, well — congratulations on truly standing alone in this world. For my part, I just feel like a schmuck who can’t get 79 precious minutes of his life back.

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Here’s the rundown : five one-note ciphers head for an area known as the “Spiritual Woods” (based on the Japanese “Suicide Forest,” recently explored on the big screen in director Jason Zada’s The Forest) with an HD video camera to document the goings-on there for their — college biology class? Employing the shop-worn cliche of naming all the characters after the actors who portray them in order to imbue the proceedings with a supposed sense of “realism” (thus Heidi Lewandowski is Heidi, Kinsley Funari is Kinsley, Taylor Patterson is Taylor, Adrian Denzel is Adrian, Ricky Valentino is Ricky — you know the drill), Daniel sends his crew of intrepid youngsters out into the wild where they duly hear a lot of rustling leaves, potential footsteps, whispers on the wind, and the like — only turn around, point their camera, and find nothing.

Again.

And again.

And again.

And a few more times for good measure. As you’ve no doubt already surmised, things get really dull really fast around these parts. Unless you consider any number of shots more or less exactly like this one to be interesting :

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Sooner or later — okay, much later — it does turn out that there is a real spirit in these woods (she’s played by Ashley Fast), and she wears a reasonably creepy mask, but she doesn’t actually have much else to offer beyond that. And it’s a case of  “way too little, way too late”  by then, anyway. If you stick it out — and you shouldn’t — be warned : the boredom never lets up in the least.

Beyond that, shit — there’s not much to say about this one. The acting’s atrocious, the dialogue is bland as un-buttered toast, the scares are non-existent, the “point-and-shoot” camerawork is the very definition of uninspired, and the pacing is interminably slow. I’ve developed a mighty tolerance for the shortcomings of “shaky cam” shit over the years, but this one tested even my resolve to its limits. Simply put, I hated this flick with a passion reserved for few things in life (root canals, in-laws, reunions of extended family, The Courtship Of Eddie’s Father reruns, etc.) but stuck it out so that you, dear reader, would never have to after reading my review.

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As a matter of fact, I’m going a step further than is my usual custom here — even for the worst of films — and literally begging you to avoid Spirit In The Woods. I’ve seen way too many lousy “found footage” horrors in my time to count, and this may well be the absolute worst of them.

 

Comments
  1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

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