Wake Wood (2011)

Alice Daley (Ella Connolly) is dead, horribly mauled on her birthday by a diseased hound in her father’s vetenarian practice. Her parents Louise (Eva Birthwhistle) and Patrick (Aidan Gillan) decide to move to the countryside and start a new life, moving into the rough-looking township of Wake Wood.

Everything is going reasonably well until they stumble upon a bizarre ritual at local farmer Arthur’s (Timothy Spall) home… in which the dead are apparently brought back to life. Realising they could see their daughter again, they decide to do Wake Wood’s ancient ritual… with some disturbing results.

Wake Wood is a good idea severely lacking in subtlety, with a beginning that would’ve benefited from a lot more restraint. Unfortunately everything is on display in Wake Wood and you can guess exactly what’s happening way before it’s ‘revealed’.

There are also some seriously tired tropes present in Wake Wood. The Daley’s discovery only happens because their car breaks down in the countryside and their flashlight inexplicably stops working. It’s these yawn-worthy clich├ęd moments that make the film seem slightly uninspired.

That’s not to say Wake Wood is poorly made. It is directed competently and the clunky dialogue is delivered very well by everyone involved. Timothy Spall is especially compelling (when isn’t he?) and every scene with him in is quality.

Unfortunately decent acting and directing don’t automatically make a film brilliant and in Wake Wood’s case this is certainly true. It is cripplingly dull in places and – because of its lack of subtlety – simply isn’t compelling enough. The dialogue also tends to be a little blatant and overwrought, which only adds to the awful lack of subtlety.

Wake Wood is an intriguing idea poorly executed. Spall is excellent and the direction decent, but the horrendous lack of subtlety makes it tiresome viewing in places. Not a terrible film, but one that screams of missed potential.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

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