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June 22, 2011

Movie Review: Wake Wood (2011, Blu-ray)

Hammer Films has been a glorious banner for some of the finest examples of horror films to come out of the UK for the past fifty plus years. Production has been dormant until recently with Hammer's newest offering, David Keating’s thriller, Wake Wood. Dark Sky Films and MPI are now producing Wake Wood for the home entertainment market in both Blu-ray and DVD incarnations of the recent shocker.

Buy Wake Wood [Blu-ray] or DVD

Anyone who is a parent knows that one of the absolute worst things that could happen to a family is the loss of a young child. Patrick and Louise ( Aidan Gillen and Eva Birthistle) experience this very thing when their daughter, Alice (Ella Connolly) is fatally mauled - in surprisingly graphic fashion - by a vicious mongrel patrolling the grounds of the veterinary hospital where Patrick works.

Moving away becomes the first attempt to wipe away some of the anguish of Alice's death. Wake Wood, a small town somewhere around the Irish countryside seems like the prime place to ease their pain. What they don't know (oh yeah, here it comes) is that Wake Wood is a town inhabited by pagans who put a lot of their free time in resurrecting the dead. After meeting with Arthur (Timothy Spall, Harry Potter series) the couple turns their attention to bringing Alice back from the dead so they can be a happy family again. They get their wish and get Alice back but unfortunately they have to break the rules. Now family pets and little old ladies pay the price by being dispatched by this maniacal moppet.

It sounds a lot like Pet Cemetery, and it is; only minus the Indian burial ground and Fred Gwynne's lacerated Achilles tendon. Wake Wood isn't as uncomfortable or mean-spirited as Pet Cemetery but it still gives several visceral thrills. Alice puts togethor a body count remarkably quick and in gory fashion. One character even perishes by bull and it's VERY messy. The acting is good as Gillen and Birthistle are perfectly believable in their roles as the grieving parents of Alice. Spall is also a highlight amongst the players and delivers in what is a significant role for the Potter alum.

The extras are fairly sparse but what is here is enjoyable. We have some deleted scenes which show some more of Alice after her resurrection at home. She plays with a doll that oozes blood from the eye-sockets. There’s also much more pre-ritual footage with Louise and Patrick spying on the villagers as they perform a resurrection. The original theatrical trailer is also included as a bonus.

Wake Wood is a very effective horror film. The story isn’t completely original but there are enough unique touches and fun performances in Keating’s film to keep the proud history of Hammer alive. Recommended.

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