We’d had Blair Witch goes Spanish ([REC]); Blair Witch meets Godzilla (Cloverfield) and Blair Witch stays in for the night (Paranormal Activity).
And now comes Blair Witch on Dartmoor, courtesy of Brit-scarer A Night In The Woods.
A found-footage faux-doc involving two guys and a girl, Richard Parry’s movie is scarily derivative. But it’s also, within its own limits, effective.
Following the 1999 blueprint to the letter, it even starts with locals riffing to camera about an urban legend – in this case, the haunted past of Wistman’s Woods.
And then we’re off camping with our protagonists: camcorder obsessive Brody (Monsters’ Scoot McNairy), his girlfriend Kerry (Anna Skellern) and her ‘friend’ Leo (Andrew Hawley).
For a while it’s all banter, campfire songs and sheep impersonations.
But then relationships become strained, people go AWOL and the shadows start coughing up nasty surprises.
Woods suffers plausibility issues: for one, who holidays with their boyfriend and ex without expecting trouble?
There are also a couple of points where Parry (awkwardly) breaks the found-footage rules to shoehorn in plot twists and backstory. Not the best ploy when you’re striving for absolute authenticity.
On the other hand, the director employs simple camera tricks – like switching to infra-red – to eerie effect. There are also a few slow pans across unknowable forestland that will tighten stomachs. And of course, the occasional loud, jolting ‘Boo!’
Performances are solid too, with McNairy flexing a roguish charisma familiar from Monsters but with a couple of fresh edges.
The FrightFest punters received Woods warmly; but after so many films of similar ilk – not least Atrocious, which screened Saturday – you can bet there were several with found-footage fatigue. Time to press [Pause] on the sub-genre?
Did you go down to the Woods? Was its bite worse than its bark? Comment below!