A Night in the Woods (2012)

Directed By: Richard Parry
Directed By:
Starring: Scoot McNairy
  Anna Skellern
  Andrew Hawley
A Night in the Woods

This is going to be a short review. Why? Because the film is incredibly simple and not very interesting. It’s not complicated or vastly intelligent. It’s creepy but not scary. It’s well made but not compelling. A Night in the Woods is a horribly average horror film that is almost instantly forgettable. Not terrible, just a bit pointless. Which is probably worse than calling it awful…

Troubled couple Brody (Scoot McNairy) & Kerry (Anna Skellern) and their friend Leo (Andrew Hawley) have decided that camping in the scary, reputedly-haunted Wistman’s Woods in Dartmoor is a good idea. Obsessive Brody takes his videocamera along to record everything…

… which is useful because what should be a fun-filled spooky night in the woods turns into a chaotic nightmare, where relationships fray, trust dissolves and paranoia threatens to spin them into endless darkness and death. Good times!

Featuring a cast of three and being found-footage, A Night in the Woods is suitably low budget and does well with its limitations. Unfortunately, however, it appears director Richard Parry opted for an ‘improvised script’, which means – apart from the structure – everything is thrown into the film without the finesse (or intelligence) of an actual written script.

This also creates a major problem, which is unfortunately common in horror films anyway, and that is a lack of sympathetic character. No one is particularly likeable here and – coupled with the ramshackle dialogue that bumbles throughout – it makes it impossibly hard to care about the characters.

The obvious comparisons would be with The Blair Witch Project but it’s a very different beast. Blair Witch has a vastly more compelling story and is infinitely more horrifying because of it. A Night in the Woods is less terrifying, less well structured and sadly very anticlimactic.

Richard Parry’s direction is decent, with a few creepy moments, and the sound design is excellent. Sadly the film just can’t get past the awful scripting problem and the entire cast come across as a little uncertain, even though we know they’re great normally (McNairy in is superb in Monsters and Skellern puts in a very decent performance in The Descent: Part 2).

A Night in the Woods is low budget, improvised found-footage horror that promises terror and provides melodrama instead. Some people may find it very creepy and disconcerting, but those well-versed in found-footage horrors will find this tedious and forgettable.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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