‘Deep in the Woods’ is likely to be one of those movies which, should it get the audience it deserves, become one of the year’s sleeper hits.
Touted as a ‘Krampus’ mixed with ‘Omen’ style chiller, the film’s tone and content could hardly be further from the marketing; although its effectiveness relies on your thinking that it is.
Confused? let me elaborate.
The plot of the movie follows the disappearance of a toddler on the evening of a traditional ‘Krampus’ festival. The legend tells that the townsfolk dress up as the now familiar Christmas demon to ward off and appease him from taking children from the village. The notes at the start of the film inform us that, although the legend is now an excuse to get pissed and have a good time, there has been a history of Children going missing in the area. We cut to the perspective of a young boy, frightened and disorientated by the sights and sounds he finds his dad, drunken and attention seeking from his intoxicated counterparts, and is sadly insulted and told to go home, alone and afraid. Needless to say, he never makes it.
We cut to the family’s lives 4 years after the event when, by an apparent miracle, a child is found having a DNA match of the missing youngster and at an age which would correlate with the length of time since his disappearing. He is unable to tell where he has been, or what happened to him, but still, he’s back! Although parents have since split up, the father (who was initially arrested for the childs murder) is understandably over joyed! The mum, well she suffers a little from anxiety, depression and god only know what else and she isn’t quite as convinced; she just doesn’t feel that this is her son. He is distant, violent and has a certain distain for the family that no one can quite put their finger on.
Cue horror-tropes galore.
At this point, and with the more typical horror elements within the film, you are definitely led by the hand in thinking this is just a dramatized Italian Omen inspired piece mixed with a little bit of Krampus thrown in for good measure. The kid is naturally creepy, being the moody silent type, and indeed when he does things such as murder the family dog and put shards of glass in his mum’s cornflakes you cannot help but think that he is one head shave away from revealing the magic 3 numbers! Throw in a couple of mums dodgy demon infused hallucinations and I thought it was all a big dramatic build up to a standard seen it all ending.
Well, how wrong I was.
You see that’s the thing about this movie, and whilst I would recommend it in a heartbeat should you be intrigued because to read further could lead to spoilers (despite my best efforts to keep it free from), it really is a complete curve ball.
Whilst you are distracted thinking you know where the movie is going what you haven’t noticed is top shelf acting, an atmosphere you could cut with a knife and a breadcrumb trail of hints at the film true intentions and (frankly amazing) twist. I cannot stress how impressed I was with this film! It really got under my skin and because it had suckered me into being a smart arse and thinking I had it all sussed out, the plot finale made all the more impact. Oddly, whilst you might be expecting jumps and jolts what you are going to get is an emotional rollercoaster which is both heart breaking and warming at the same time.
Ok, I’m going to stop now, because I feel a spoiler coming on. ‘Deep in the Woods’ is available on VOD – check it out and let me know if you felt the same.