Director: David Keating
Starring: Eva Birthistle, Aidan Gillen, Timothy Spall.
The first film from legendary production company Hammer in 30 years, Wake Wood is the story of a couple (Aidan Gillen, Eva Birthistle) whose daughter is murdered by a savage dog on her birthday. The grieving parents decide to relocate and move to the small town of Wake Wood. There they learn of a pagan ritual that will allow them three more days with their dead daughter, Alice. But what happens when it’s time for Alice to go back?
Hammer studio has already confirmed legendary status in film circles, particularly in the genre of horror. It is the studio that made Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee famous. For a long time Hammer was the face of horror. Now after a near 30 year hiatus Hammer is back gracing the silver screen, and no better a movie to kick off its return then Wake Wood.
The film is littered with all the trademark elements of a Hammer film that made the initial works so endearing. Low budget special effects, out of focus angled shots and misty landscapes are all there in abundance, and work as well to create a chilling, unsettling atmosphere as the company’s original horror classics. Don’t expect Saw type gory effects, there is nothing ‘Hollywood’ about Hammer.
Horror, as of late, has been suffering a series of boring plots and seemingly limitless remakes. The American market seems completely uninterested in developing original horror these days and instead looks abroad to translate and repackage successful, foreign horror flicks. However, Brendan McCarthy has delivered an entertainingly, and importantly, original script that those Hollywood execs should take note of. Wake Wood is not merely an original horror tale; it contains twists and turns that should satisfy any film fan, the ending especially, will leave the audience a gasp.
As far as performances go, the acting is solid. Aidan Gillen (The Wire) and Timothy Spall are far and away the best performers of the lot, however the relatively unknown cast all manage decent performances for the most part, especially Ella Connolly, whose performance as Alice is convincingly chilling and believable.
Wake Wood is a credit to the Irish film board who, in the past, could be accused of being a little ‘safe’ in their choice of films to fund. Not only does the film fit quite nicely into the Hammer catalogue, it proves that the Irish can still spin a great yarn