Girl in Woods (2016)


USA. 2016.


Director/Screenplay – Jeremy Benson, Producer – Mark Williams, Photography – Ryan Earl Parker, Music – Kevin Croxton, Visual Effects – Anthony Kramer (Supervisor – Brian D. Elkins), Special Effects Supervisor – Mark Volzer, Makeup Effects – Duane P. Craig & Tim Richards, Production Design – Albert Seiler. Production Company – Yield Entertainment


Juliet Reeves (Grace Walker), Jeremy London (Jim Taylor), Charisma Carpenter (Momma), Lee Perkins (Daddy), John Still (Grandfather), Shaun Elizabeth (Seven-Year-Old Grace)


Grace is proposed to by her boyfriend Jim. He takes her for a hike into the woods, only to be accidentally shot in the head by a stray bullet. The distraught Grace is abandoned there with no supplies or clue how to find her way back. Reduced to starvation, her mind begins to wander. She has flashbacks to her childhood and the death of her parents, both in strange circumstances, while visions of herself appear to offer advice. At the same time, she starts to see a mysterious creature haunting the woods.

Girl in Woods was the fourth film for Jeremy Benson who had previously made the horror films Shutter (2005) and Live Animals (2008).

It took me a long time to get into Girl in Woods – a problem that I imagine most audiences are likely to experience. Though I had seen the film reviewed as a work of horror genre, it couldn’t seem to decide if it was being a wilderness survival drama or a horror film. Indeed, for much of the early sections of the film, there is not anything that could be described as horror. Most of the film during these sections seems to be about Juliet Reeves lost alone in the woods and trying to piece together the basics of survival or find her way out and frequently failing. During these scenes, we also get a number of flashbacks to her childhood and the unspecified terrible things that happened to her where you get the impression that the isolation is acting as a form of psychodrama for her. She is also joined by two other rather bitchy versions of herself who offer practical advice and frequently ridicule her failures, If there is anything that the film resembles during these scenes it is something of what you think the confused The Interior (2015) was trying to be.

Where the film redeems itself is when it comes to a clever conceptual reversal twist ending. It is something that abruptly pulls all of the elements together with some ingenuity and makes sense out of what has been a draggy and somewhat directionless film up to that point. [PLOT SPOILERS]. Here we learn that the strange possibly non-human creature that is seen running about is actually Juliet Reeves and that she has snapped and turned feral as a result of her abandonment in the woods and lack of psychiatric medication – that she has devoured her fiance’s body and is randomly attacking people she comes across. Moreover, that the flashbacks to her and her family are about her reliving a traumatic incident and how she kept her dead mother alive as a personality in her imagination.

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