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Wake Wood - Blu-ray Review

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Wake Wood - blu-ray Review

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4 stars

At Hammer Films, resurrection is the flavor of the month.  Once a staple of the Horror community, Hammer films reigned supreme for nearly thirty years producing such classics as The Curse of Frankenstein, Vampire Circus, and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires and then, fearing to tread into the 1980s, the production company simply evaporated.  And now it returns.  Freshly raised from the grave after co-producing Let the Right One In, Hammer offers its own production of David Keating’s Wake Wood, a twisted little chiller that borrows a riff from Stephen King and makes it its spooky own.

While the resurrection of loved ones is nothing new to the horror genre, Wake Wood’s strength lies in what it does with the familiar formula.  After losing their nine-year-old daughter to the ravenous jaws of a wild dog, Patrick (Aidan Gillen) and Louise (Eva Birthistle) find their marriage and their spirits grief-stricken beyond consolation.  The couple moves to the small and insanely atmospheric town of Wake Wood and settle into their lives in pharmacy and veterinarian services.  The hope is that time will make all things better.

Only some wounds don’t heal.

After witnessing and being completely creeped out by one of the town’s secret pagan ceremonies, Patrick and Louise are approached by Arthur (Timothy Spall) and, believing that he can heal the couple with their grieving, offers them a chance to be reunited with their deceased daughter, Alice (Ella Connolly), if they are willing to pay the price.  It may seem a little too Pet Cemetery for its own good, but the changes along the way and three-day time period are rich with intense horror.  Written by Keating and Brendan McCarthy, Wake Wood proves to be engaging and bone-chilling from beginning to uncompromising end.

Cold and distant, Wake Wood does the name of Hammer proud.  It’s almost as if the production company had never left.  Graphic in its use of violence at times, yet as quiet as a mouse in others, the film has a thoughtful balance that feels more akin to a product from 1975 (which is a good thing).  The rich cinematography – provided by Chris Maris - is atmospheric and as thoughtfully developed as Keating’s characters.

While the subject is certainly taboo, the rules of the resurrection game are strict which adds to the tension of the narrative.  Yet, some logic is lost when Alice becomes aware of herself as a dead thing and suddenly unaware of the rules for the showdown that follows between the townspeople and her parents.  Everything is explained for the patient viewer which makes this film so very grisly and rewarding.

Filled with caesarean sections and finger-loping moments, Wake Wood might sound as if it wallows in the violence it depicts, but it doesn’t.  Those moments are brief and only add to the rich atmosphere the low-budget film so welcomingly embraces.  If Wake Wood is a hint of the things to come from Hammer films, then a congratulations is extended to all parties involved in bringing the studio back to life.

Welcome back, Hammer!

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{2jtab: Film Details}

Wake Wood - blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: R for bloody violence including disturbing images, and brief sexuality..
Director
: David Keating
Writer
: David Keating
Cast:
Aidan Gillen; Eva Birthistle; Timothy Spall; Ella Connolly;     Ruth McCabe
Genre
: Horror | Thriller
Tagline:
Wake Wood
Memorable Movie Quote: "What is this place?"
Distributor:
Hammer Film Productions
Release Date:
No theatrical release.
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 5, 2011

Synopsis: A second trailer for Wake Wood. The parents of a girl who was killed by a savage dog are granted the opportunity to spend three days with their deceased daughter.

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{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Wake Wood - blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

2 stars



Blu-ray Experience
3 Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Review:

Available on Blu-ray - July 5, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: LPCM 2.0
Discs: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: LPCM 2.0
Playback: Region A

This is an entirely digital production.  Contrast is a bit uneven, but overall colors are spot-on and the effects – softened edges and washed-out moments – are equally impressive and intended.  The palette is dark and gloomy with only a hint of sunshine at the beginning and (maybe) ending of the film.  The 24-bit, six-channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack isn’t a monster unloading its sound, but it does provide a wealth of atmosphere to be considered of high quality.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

With only one sequence of deleted scenes and a brief theatrical trailer, the supplemental material is a bit of a disappointment.  No fanfare in Hammer’s return.  No nothing.  While the deleted and extended scenes do highlight how Alice became aware of herself as a dead thing, they don’t add that much to the film and are totally justified in being removed.

  • Deleted Scenes (14 min)
  • Trailer (2 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}

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