An unrated special edition of Eyes of the Woods, an indie horror project that has been hanging out since at least 2009 looking for just the right distribution deal, is finally hitting the market.
The storyline is fairly basic as horror storylines go. There's this Wicker demon hanging around the woods of Knobs Creek and for a group of kids who venture that direction this demon becomes their worst nightmare. Soon after arrival, they find themselves alone, separated, and terrified as they encounter this flesh-eating creature.
The film kicks off with a stunningly abysmal scene about a Pilgrim (think the Puritans) who sold his soul to the devil, the sort of urban myth that we expect to be told around campfires. As a result, this Pilgrim becomes a seriously butt kicking monster who begins killing to avenge the death of his child. So, when these city slicker kids come along it is just not going to pretty.
That pretty much describes this film, too.
There's a pretty strong feeling that Eyes of the Woods is aiming for an Evil Dead kind of vibe where camp meets horror meets cult movie classic. While I doubt that anyone would call Evil Dead brilliant cinema, it is a pretty stellar example of how you can construct an appealing and winning B-movie that pleases its target audience.
Eyes of the Woods seems to fall victim to just about every low-budget stereotype there is in the world. Considering that the film has been floating around since at least 2009, you might suspect that at least one of its cast members would have moved beyond their "up-and-coming" status.
No such luck.
The acting starts off as painfully ugly in the film's opening scenes mostly because, you gotta' love 'em, the actors at least try to give the film some authenticity with that whole Puritan/Pilgrim thing. Unfortunately, their attempts at recreating the language of that period are laughably bad in the "I'm at the bottom of my high school acting class" kind of way.
It doesn't get much better as the film goes on.
The production credits are pretty much along those same lines with unclear and uneven camera work, a convoluted sound mix, and ridiculously awful editing. To the credit of the special effects team, the creature is actually pretty decent and warrants the film's 1-star rating. While the special effects also have good moments, they're hindered by the dark, cloudy lensing.
The film does have a solid packaging including writer/producer commentary, a "Making a Creature" photo journal, and a behind-the-scenes featurette. I've been reviewing indie horror long enough to know exactly what can be done even on a really low budget.
This ain't it.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic