dir. Erik Bloomquist
Set at fictitious 80s summer destination Camp Briarbook, She Came from the Woods is a fireside tale in the tradition of The Burning and Friday The 13th. And with a history etched in darkness, Briarbook is also the perfect locale for the curious young staff to partake in a last night ceremony that unleashes an evil that threatens them all.
Having impressed with indie horror gem Night at the Eagle Inn, director Erik Bloomquist exhibits wit and ambition when working on a larger canvas here that includes a more expansive roster of characters, a smart first act and some wonderfully gruesome set pieces. The result stands out amongst a sea of nostalgia-filled retro-horrors, particularly due to an excellent ensemble that includes Cara Buono, Clare Foley, Spencer List and William Sadler.
One of the strengths is that the story’s more interesting than your average slasher, with an occult element which keeps things unpredictable. There’s even admirable restraint when it comes to the film’s influences (although it can’t resist several needle-drops of ‘Kids of America’), finding time for the tributes without letting them overwhelm the narrative (even if some questionable, era-appropriate slurs leave a queasy feeling when one character is on screen).
It may not reinvent the horror wheel, but She Came From The Woods certainly has a lot of heart as well as a fun – and increasingly violent -second half. Fans of Fear Street should certainly book into Briarbook for another slice of 80s camp mayhem.
© Russell Bailey