Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Woods (2006)
Worthwhile, and actually pretty good
Judging from the enthusiastic response at Sunday night's screening, I suspect that if THE WOODS were given a conventional theatrical release, it would attract a wide audience. The film is structured and presented as a nightmare, and it has the inconsistencies and incongruities that a nightmare has. That is too much for some people to tolerate, but judging from the screening, there are many who get it, and like it. There is much to like. Fans of MAY will be happy to see that Lucky McKee has developed more fully into an actor's director, zeroing in on character and bringing to a scene the proper dramatic balance and tone. They'll also be pleased to see that given a modest budget by today's shock-horror standards, he has exhibited new freedom of movement and imagery. Above all, this is a visually stunning film. with an almost overwhelming sound design that is understandably too much for some people. McKee knows how to create a mood of foreboding, but he chooses to do it through artistry rather than through cheap manipulation. The clichés that he uses are an evocation, not an imitation, of classics like SUSPIRIA. What lights up the screen is an individual voice, a distinctive style that immediately sets McKee apart from his contemporaries. It's not that he does it better (although compared with most Hollywood releases, he really does it better), but that his work is instantly recognizable as unique, clearly identifiable, unlike anything we've seen before. There is a unity of artistic elements, with cinematography, art direction, music, sound and acting that blend seamlessly into a coherent style that is more important to the film than the details of the story. That's a pretty tough accomplishment, and one that may or may not appeal to thrill-seeking moviegoers, but it's earned him enough respect from his peers to be named one of the "Masters of Horror." He belongs in that group because of the way he approaches his work, not because of the number of screams his films generate, or the clarity and logic of his scripts. It's not for everybody, but it does strike a chord with fans who value the way McKee creates and sustains tension, allows his characters to come alive within the story, and moves the camera with breathtaking effect. I'm still not sure what was going on in that school, but I know how it felt to watch it, and I found this movie riveting. McKee is aiming at lyricism, and while we should expect that plot is also served, in this film it is secondary. Nightmare logic isn't covered in Aristotle's Six Elements of Drama. It is McKee's creativity that we experience, and it was gratifying, last Sunday night, to be among so many people who came to enjoy themselves watching the work of this talented film maker.