A tree falling may or may not make a sound when no one is around to hear it, but for the characters in Adam Reider’s Woodland Grey any sound to come out of from the depths of the woods is deafening. This eerie indie horror stars Jenny Raven (Flatliners 2017), Ryan Blakely (Dream House), and horror film alum Art Hindle who has appeared in films such as Invasion of The Body Snatchers, Black Christmas (1974), and The Brood.
Woodland Grey tells a story that horror fans have most definitely seen before in one way or another. Through predictable tropes and storytelling, the audience is in for an oddly familiar but occasionally unique ride that will have you questioning if you are ever truly alone once you enter the woods.
“[Woodland Grey] explores how people deal with grief and guilt differently and how it affects their lives and those around them.”
William (Ryan Blakely), a man living a life of isolation in the woods, rescues Emily (Jenny Raven), an unconscious hiker laying on the ground outside his campsite, and brings her to his home to nurse her back to health. After coming to, Emily quickly realizes that the man who saved her life is a strange fellow indeed. Indebted to him and in no imminent danger they learn to coexist for a short time while she rests and tries to gain her strength back so she can be on her way. However, as in most horror films, the peace is short-lived.
Emily realizes the calm before the storm has come to an end as she makes a startling discovery not too far from William’s trailer: a shoddily made shed sitting ominously amongst the trees, a lock sealing shut whatever is inside. Believing she is doing the right thing, Emily breaks into the shed. The chaos that ensues forces her and William to come together and face the horrors that lurk in the shed while also trying to find a way out of the woods.
The first thing that grabs your attention in Woodland Grey is the cinematography. The location in which the film takes place is breathtaking and haunting all at the same time. You really feel like you are out there in a vast expanse of forest with William and Emily and yet there is something incredibly claustrophobic about it as well. It’s as if you could reach out for miles and never even touch a tree, but they still feel like they are closing in on you, crushing you into nothingness. That is a feat within itself and not many films achieve that in the entire runtime, never mind the first five minutes. The musical score and soundtrack perfectly compliment the visual beauty and darkness of the film as well and make it hard to take your eyes off the screen.
Jenny Raven and Ryan Blakely do as decent a job they can as the leading roles working off a pretty average script and overall stale concept. With clear inspiration from films such as Hereditary, The Babadook, and Deliverance, Woodland Grey makes grief the clear and present theme throughout. It explores how people deal with grief and guilt differently and how it affects their lives and those around them. The woods themselves are grief, surrounding William and Emily, suffocating them slowly.
They must learn to trust each other and process their trauma together in order to escape. There are quite a few flashbacks that come at bizarre times and the flow of the story is very confused as well. The few times Art Hindle is on screen are very captivating. He is incredibly underutilized as an actor, and an increased performance from him would have elevated the film to a higher level. Overall there are a few glimmering moments of brilliance here and there, but the film can border on predictable and tired for any horror fan that “has seen it all”.
Fans of the genre should definitely check this film out even if they may have seen others like it before. It is visually stunning and there are some truly gruesome moments of horror that will satisfy even the most jaded gore goers.
“…visually stunning [with] some truly gruesome moments of horror that will satisfy even the most jaded gore goers.”
Woodland Greycelebrated its world premiere at Toronto’s Blood In The Snow Festival and recently its American Premiere at the Another Hole In The Head Film Festival. Keep an eye out for this indie darling and let us know what you thought of its haunting cinematography once you’ve had a chance to witness it for yourself over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.