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David Keating
Aidan Gillen, Eva Birthistle, Timothy Spall, Ella Connolly, Ruth McCabe, Brian Gleeson, Amelia Crowley, Dan Gordon
Writing Credits:
David Keating, Brendan McCarthy (story)

Still grieving the death of nine-year-old Alice their only child at the jaws of a crazed dog, vet Patrick and pharmacist Louise relocate to the remote town of Wake Wood where they learn of a pagan ritual that will allow them three more days with Alice. The couple find the idea disturbing and exciting in equal measure, but once they agree terms with Arthur, the village s leader, a far bigger question looms what will they do when it s time for Alice to go back?

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Uncompressed PCM 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 7/5/2011

• Deleted Scenes
• Trailer
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Wake Wood [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 30, 2011)

Horror buffs look back fondly at the output from Hammer Films, a British-based studio that prospered from the 1950s through the 1970s. They essentially went dormant for decades, though, without any work since the early 1980s.

2011’s Wake Wood marks the return of Hammer, though it remains to be seen if horror fans will greet the new film – or the reinvented studio – with much interest. After a vicious dog mauls and kills their young daughter Alice (Ella Connolly), Patrick (Aidan Gillen) and Louise Daley (Eva Birthistle) move and attempt to get a new start. This takes them to the village of Wakewood.

We find them about nine months after their arrival in the town, and they continue to struggle to get over the loss of their daughter. This leads them to discover a dark secret: the town occasionally performs a pagan ritual that can bring the dead back to life for three days. We follow their decision to pursue this and its aftermath.

Rather than shoot for wild violent thrills, Wake Wood mostly walks the Rosemary’s Baby path. With its visions of a cult and their rituals along with its generally subtle storytelling, it’s definitely a movie that favors psychological horror over overt shocks.

Well, for a while, at least. Wake builds its story pretty well, as during its first half, it goes slowly to ease us into its concept. The movie throws a few hints that something’s odd in Wakewood, but it lets its notions evolve in a satisfying way so it doesn’t bludgeon us with foreshadowing or obvious narrative machinations.

Even after the movie becomes a more obvious horror tale, it still keeps us going as we await the inevitable kicker. There’s no way the Daleys will get Alice back for three days, have fun, and then move on with their lives; what kind of dull film would that be? So there’s some nice tension as we wonder what exactly will go amiss.

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t all that interesting, and the movie’s second half tends to embrace gore more than I’d like. The first half works so well without much violence, so the decision to adopt “cheap thrills” for the second half becomes a disappointment. No, the flick never turns into a slasher gross-out fest, but it has much more nastiness than it needs. These moments feel gratuitous and don’t match the narrative’s more subdued tone.

This means Wake Wood works better in its build than in its climax and resolution. It also lacks much emotional punch. The Daleys story really should have a lot of feeling behind it, but when Alice returns, Patrick and Louise just don’t seem all that worked up about it. Sure, they have a nice time with her, but there’s not the urgency you’d expect or the recognition of the miraculous elements. They seem awfully laid-back about the whole thing, and there’s never the emotional pull one would expect from such a dramatic tale.

I think Wake Wood comes with an interesting story, and I appreciate its attempt at psychological horror. However, it loses steam as it progresses – mostly when it embraces more graphic violence – and peters out toward the end. There’s a good chunk of a satisfying movie to be found here, but the end result is only average.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

Wake Wood appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie boasted a generally positive presentation.

For the most part, sharpness seemed good. The image could be a little soft at times, usually due to the combination of digital video cameras and darkness; those were the elements that could seem a bit tentative. Overall clarity remained solid, though, and the image lacked problems like jaggies, shimmering and haloes. It also failed to suffer from any print flaws.

Like virtually all modern horror flicks, Wake Wood went with a stylized palette. We got desaturated, cold tones most of the time, though the image also occasionally adopted a sickly yellow tint. These weren’t particularly attractive, but they suited the movie. Blacks were reasonably dark and dense, and shadows were acceptable; low-light shots could be slightly murky but not to a significant degree. This wasn’t a great presentation, but it was more than acceptable.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio, it offered a fairly typical horror movie soundscape. This meant a lot of creepy atmosphere and occasional “jolt moments”, though thunder/rain was the most immersive element. Along with good stereo music, the soundfield was able to open things up in a satisfying manner that embellished the story; the mix didn’t dazzle, but it worked fine.

Audio quality was always good. Music appeared full and rich, while effects demonstrated nice clarity and accuracy. Speech was natural and distinctive throughout the film. Again, this wasn’t a memorable track, but it suited the movie.

Only a few extras show up here. Eight Deleted Scenes fill a total of 13 minutes, 57 seconds. Most of these offer short, insubstantial tidbits. The longest sequence – with a running time of eight minutes, 36 seconds – simply adds to the “birth” sequence about two-thirds of the way through the movie. None of them provide interesting footage.

The disc opens with promos for Hatchet II, Bitter Feast, Norwegian Ninja and The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu. These also appear under “More from Dark Sky Films”, and we get the film’s trailer as well.

With a chilly tone, Wake Wood avoids the strident, aggressive tone of much horror. At its best, it gives us subtle chills, but it goes off-course as it progresses and loses us along the way. The Blu-ray provides generally positive picture and audio along with minor supplements. This is a watchable horror flick but its inconsistencies mean it’s not totally satisfying.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
2 3:
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