Review of Wake Wood (2011)

9 Jul

Wake Wood (2011) is an Irish horror/thriller/drama film, about a couple who recently have lost their daughter and move to a remote town.

Directed by David Keating (The Last of the High Kings (1996), KM64: Birth of a Skatepark (2007)).

Written by Brendan McCarthy (The Metal Man (1989 Short)) and David Keating (Into the West (1992)).

Starring: Aidan Gillen, Eva Birthistle, Timothy Spall, Brian Gleeson, Ella Connolly, Ruth McCabe and others.

There’s this little girl who is going to school and decides to visit a dog and give him a snack, only she turns out to be the snack herself. In reality you often hear about children getting injured or killed by animals. Yes, it’s pretty horrible when a dog kills a child and it’s a hard thing to get over, because putting down an animal isn’t very awarding and you never get any closure about why did the dog do it, it just did.

The father is a veterinarian and they move to a small town, where he gets a job. We get to see him perform a cowbirth by a cesarean section and I’m pretty sure it was real. Either that or those were some bad-ass special effects.

The movie has a really cool, dreary mood, it doesn’t feel like the modern Hammer films exactly, since it’s only distributed by it, however the subject matter itself is disturbing enough.

It’s not too much to say that the townsfolk turn out to be a paganistic group, which can resurrect people, what a coincidence, our heroes have someone to resurrect. There’s a scene, where the village leader explains all the rules of resurrecting someone, that is so serious and believable, yet also totally absurd and in a way pretty funny. And the movie sort of plays on this, it is creepy how nonchalantly the townsfolk and the parents proceed with this whole thing. There’s never an explanation about how all this resurrection business started and that’s a good choice.

I think it intentionally makes this opposition of us, the viewers, who see all this skeptically and then explores how much a person could suspend their disbelief and how far would they go, just to see their loved one again. One could criticise the parents’ unquestioning acceptance of all the absurdly specific rules they are meant to obey, but they’re desperate parents after all and when they finally feel a bit more at ease, with the resurrection already done, they start disregarding the rules as silly and nonsensical. However, they are not.

There’s an ending, which I would have never predicted and it’s a very interesting idea and I have no clue how that would play out. It’s sort of a cliffhanger, but it’s one so good, that I wouldn’t even want to see a sequel resolving it.

Overall, a really good little horror flick, some might write down the dark silliness of it as tonal inconsistency, but I’d say it only adds to the film. Recommended.

“You see, had you read the fine print, you’d know that the payment for our resurrectional services is a human testicle per person.”
“The joke’s on you, I don’t have any!”
“…No… No, I think the joke’s still on you.”

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