Wake Wood (2011)

Irish film Wake Wood (or more properly Wakewood) is the latest film from the re-vamped Hammer Films studio. It's a distinct blend of two beloved horror films, Pet Semetary and The Wickerman. Strangely, another rather high profile (at least from a critics point of view) horror film from "across the pond" Kill List borrows a lot from The Wickerman as well and while that film seems to be getting the most buzz, Wake Wood just may be the superior of the two films.

Aiden Gillen (The Wire, Game OF Thrones) leads a tremendous cast as veterinarian Patrick, who tragically loses his daughter, Alice, to a freak animal accident. He and his wife, Louise, (Eva Birthistle) decide to leave their home and relocate to the quiet hamlet of Wakewood, hoping to start their lives anew and escape the memories of the death of their only child. It's not long before they learn that Wakewood is more than meets the eye.

After establishing themselves in the community the still grieving couple are approached by Arthur (the always awesome Timothy Spall) who wonders if they would like to take part in an ancient ritual that will return their daughter to them for a short amount of time. Patrick and Louise are eager for the chance to be reunited with Alice, if only for three days, perhaps to eager. The ritual is performed and Alice returns as scheduled, but something about her just doesn't seem right. Unfortunately for them and the rest of the residents of Wakewood, they soon learns that there are dire consequences for their actions.

Gillen gives a great performance as a father who teeters on the brink of losing it for the first half of the film before embracing his destiny in the final reel. Spall, as the towns mayor/cult leader who leads the family down the dark path is as expected, tremendous. The film is cliched and derivative especially when it comes to the two films mentioned earlier, but here it works. If you loved Pet Semetary, The Wickerman, or murderous child movies and can decipher the (sometimes) heavy Irish accents, then check out Wake Wood. it's definitely worth it.

***1/2 stars out of *****

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