DEVIL IN THE WOODS (REVIEW)
previously titled THE BARRENS
Dir. Darren Lynn Bousman
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
When news that Darren Lynn Bousman and TRUE BLOOD’s Steven Moyer were teaming up, the result would be bloody and for sure, DEVIL IN THE WOODS has claret. Taking a step back from the high gloss of previous features such as 11:11:11, REPO and the SAW films, Bousman has stripped back flashy effects to a family retreat in the woods. But if you go down in the woods today, you’ll not so much be in for a surprise, but a bloody good thriller.
Richard Vinyard (Steven Moyer) takes his family Cynthia (Mia Kirshner), Sadie (Allie McDonald) and son Danny (Peter DaChunha) to the Barrens, a camping locale to try and bring his mixed up family together, and bury his dads ashes. On route they come across gutted dears and stories of bear attacks to worsen the unwanted trip. Upon arrival, the lonely camping trip becomes a camp-fire story telling exercise featuring the ‘Jersey Devil’ a winged, dog faced horned creature that was the offspring of a betrayed witch who made a pact with the Devil.
A myth that somehow has history with Richard as his own demons come to light to horrifying effect. Creating tension within the family, he continues on his quest to keep the family separated from the outside world and harbouring his dark secrets.
Moyer and Bousman do their best to be the new Nicholson and Kubrick in this tense psychological thriller destroying the lines between the reality of illness and the visions that are bought with it. DEVIL IN THE WOODS manages to keep you hooked and while not exactly a surprise twist, especially if you’ve ever seen another Bousman film, but an entertaining finale to what is otherwise a dark family horror. At times Moyers real-life British Accent borders on hilarious and after years of watching TRUE BLOOD, this is a stigma Moyer needs to work hard to brush off if he’s to be anything but vampire Bill.
It isn’t the freshest film out there and just about hits every horror cliché but somehow, out of nowhere, it grabs you, pulls you in and rips out your intestines in a way that you’ll want to keep this in the collection for a rainy day to watch again, and revisit the tale of the Jersey Devil.