dir. Adam Rider
When lone forest dweller William (Ryan Blakely) discovers injured hiker Emily (Jenny Raven) the pair are forced to coexist. Tensions rise however when Emily discovers a terrible secret William has locked up in the shed next to his campervan, and she unknowingly unleashes a horror into the woods that neither of them are psychologically prepared for.
Woodland horror has been experiencing an upsurge in popularity over recent years, but whilst entries such as Wheatley’s In The Earth (2021) and Bouwer’s Gaia (2021) depict people being terrorized by forest-set nightmares Woodland Grey unfortunately doesn’t stick the landing in the same way.
Blakely and Raven’s performances are played with gusto as they both devolve into madness brought on by an engulfing guilt that haunts them throughout. Unfortunately the dialogue and actions of both characters are constantly called into question, distracting from any natural flow to narrative or plot. The use of red herrings, dream sequences and false endings does add a surrealist edge, yet this again is detrimental, amping up an unrelenting atmosphere of sheer confusion. Whilst a degree ambiguity is expected in surrealist horrors there still has to be something of a purpose behind the finale, yet here Woodland Grey falls short. Some may still be drawn in to this slow-burning, atmospheric think-piece but leaving the majority of the film as one big unanswered question is a bold move which doesn’t fully pay off.