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A group of artists, composed of the young actors Wilfried and Matthieu and the actresses Sophie, Mathilde and the dumb Jeanne, is hired by a millionaire, Axel de Fersen, to present a performance of Little Red Riding Hood in his isolated castle to celebrate the birthday of his grandson. Meanwhile, the police advises that a serial killer is raping and killing young women in the woods around that area. During the night, the group feels trapped and threatened in the castle, guessing who is and where might be the killer. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Based on the title, DVD-cover image, casting choices and short synopsis, "Deep in the Woods" looks like a dumb and formulaic backwoods slasher/survival horror flick. And for about 50% that is exactly the case, but for the remaining 50% it's a surprisingly stylish, experimental and unsettling Goth-horror tryout. Writer/director Lionel Delplanque does a handful of brilliant things with the cinematography and thought up a few downright and genuinely disturbing aspects (the creepy little kid!), but unfortunately he also wanted to be too "American" when it comes to the rest of the screenplay. The teenage protagonists are utmost annoying stereotypes and they do the stupidest things imaginable, like going into the woods at night after they received specific warning there's a maniac killer on the loose. The deaths/killings are rather mundane and people keep appearing and disappearing without any proper explanation, but that about concludes the bad news. "Deep in the Woods" features a strong opening sequence and the interesting idea to process the Little Red Riding Hood fairy-tale into the script. Five obnoxious wannabe actors are heading out to a mansion the middle of a desolated forest, where they are hired to perform a private theater show to the grandson of an eccentric old man. Upon their arrival, they find out the old man is a crazed wheelchair-bound psycho with oppressed homo-erotic desires, his loyal servant is a perverted taxidermist and the grandson is a silent and autistic but terrifying child with a major trauma. Soon after their (abysmal) live performance on stage, the group find themselves pursued by a lunatic killer in a leather (!) wolf costume. Delplanque manages to insert several suspense-laden moments during the cat & mouse game and the climax, although preposterous and over-the-top, is quite exhilarating. It's very strange that Lionel Delplanque wasn't offered a one-way ticket to Hollywood after this (like his colleagues Alexandre Aja, Xavier Gens and Pascal Laugier), because his competent directing is undoubtedly film's biggest trump. I guess the script was ultimately too weak for him to become noticed.
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