A couple decide that they’re going to reopen this inherited shuttered inn/pub called The Harbour in the latest woods flick we’re checking out, aptly titled The Village in the Woods because the action occurs in a village and it’s in the woods.
But the woods do not play that much of a role in this one other than briefly being an impediment to travel and acting as an isolating factor. No bears, no tents, no campfire, no grand establishing shots of the forestry, no mosquitoes and no Bigfoot.
It’s British, so when the main guy Jason (Robert Vernon, “Censor”) gets riled up, he says “bloody” a lot. And when they’re talking about fuel, it’s “diesel” and “petrol.”
And it’s also one of those ones where they show something from close to the end of the narrative at the beginning of the flick and then you spend the next hour and 12 minutes or so getting back to where the movie started. There’s probably an even more technical term for this story structure than “non-recursive hippety-hoppity flashback”-itis, so if there’s a recent film studies grad or someone who’s in the industry who wants to enlighten me, write in so the next time I see a flick like this I know what to actually call it.
So 30 seconds into director/co-writer Raine McCormack’s movie, you know that some woman’s gonna end up tied to a bed and writhe around while wearing some funky lipstick like Linnea Quigley did in Night of the Demons.
There’s a lot of the familiar rural/folk horror aspects going on here with a moody start and the car quitting on the two main characters, stranding them in the middle of nowhere. The fog machine operator(s) earned their keep for sure, and you get a bunch of sinister older British actors peering through smudged windows and tree branches to add some menace to the proceedings.
But, as is often the case in flicks of this ilk, the behavior trends toward box of rocks choices even though Jason and Nikki/Rebecca (Beth Park) have enough confidence in themselves to have an identity theft scheme planned. They actually do the smart thing for starters, namely staying in their car and not venturing out into the dark woods in the middle of the night. That doesn’t last.
They ignore the danger signs from Arthur (Sidney Kean) — the old guy squatting in the pub. They shrug off the threat from Charles (Richard Hope) — the old guy lurking in the woods when they arrive. And Maddy (Therese Bradley, “Anna and the Apocalypse”) — the lady who’s sinisterly friendly and probably has a lot to do with the angel effigies hanging around in the trees and in her house — she’s just eccentric and likes to aardvark a lot.
Plus people keep eyeballing Nikki/Rebecca’s turquoise ring and she finds out she has a weird slow-motion psychic link with Charles that leads to either a nightmare or reverse precognition that there’s going to be some demonic aardvarking with wood nymph overtones while she’s wearing a deer skull headdress.
Yep, there are Druids and witches in them there woods. Are the scammers going to be able to get outta Dodge before it’s too late or are they gonna be operating the Pub of the Damned?
Best Display of Rage: Jason versus his car.
Best Welcome Wagon Hostess: The middle-aged sinisterly friendly Maddy who’s into aardvarking a lot.
Best Sayer of Sooth: Arthur, who points his cane at people and shares nuggets such as “You chose the wrong place” and “So it begins” and “The villagers are going to do something terrible, and you walked straight into it” and “You can’t run away. No one escapes.” And “I have to cut it off, it’s the only way.”
Best Way to Dispose of an Annoyance: Burn em at the stake, which the villagers do.
Best Host for a Demon-Sustaining Bun in the Oven: The virgin who happens to find her way into the village.
Two and a half stars.
Check it out on TubiTV, Vudu, Plex or on physical media.