Beyond the Woods Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Left Films
Written and directed by Sean Brathneach
2018, 85 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 19th February 2018
John Ryan Howard as Ger
Mark Lawrence as Ray
Ross Mac Mahon as Shane
Clare J. Loy as Emma
You know the drill, so you do: friends take off to an isolated cabin in the woods for a long weekend of drinking, smoking pot, and partying. Zombies, hillbillies, viruses, monsters or some combination of the above attack, sending the holiday into disarray. This time, it's in Ireland, and there's a flaming sinkhole belching out horrors at our pretty young (ish) friends.
This time, the terror takes the form of a hulking, gurgling great monster with a big axe and the robes of a monk – a medieval Victor Crowley – picking off the pals one by one. The film may be called Beyond the Woods, but the action stays entirely within the comfort zone of low-budget indie horror. Don't go expecting to see much of that sinkhole everyone keeps harping on about then, not on this budget.
What one should expect, however, is precisely what one would expect – minimal action, long and often interminable dialogue sequences, gloomily lit indoor scenes, pitch-black outdoor scenes, and a lot of arguing. But in Irish. The film's killer occasionally makes an appearance to do away with one of the characters, but it's with an infuriating infrequency and a pace that never seems to pick up, even in the film's late stages.
Still, it possesses a basic competence that one can't always take for granted where budgetless cabin in the woods movies are concerned, particularly when it comes to its cast. Wisely eschewing the idiot teenagers that tend to populate this sort of thing, the slightly older adult friends here are a largely likeable bunch, the acting low-key and naturalistic. The actors' style sits well with the direction and visuals, which are realistic and non-showy. The writing, by director Sean Breathnach, is similarly well-judged, the story slowly building towards an interesting, ambitious denouement that it's a shame the film couldn't have leaned more heavily into earlier.
Beyond the Woods offers few surprises, being a mostly predictable, formulaic cabin in the woods movie from a director who's new to feature-length filmmaking. It's neither very bad nor good; decent enough compared to much of its ilk, but hardly a trailblazer. You know the drill.