Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway deliver solid performances in this cabin-in-the-woods horror
If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise, etc. Director-slash-co-writer Leigh Janiak's nicely atmospheric horror is both creepy and disturbing, though it tips its hand slightly too early and has the usual genre-associated problems of characters not behaving in logical fashion once the spooky stuff starts happening.
Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones' Ygritte) and Harry Treadaway (Penny Dreadful's Frankenstein) play American newlyweds Bea and Paul, who have come to her family's isolated cabin for a romantic honeymoon in the middle of nowhere. Stopping for food, Bea runs into old boyfriend Will (Ben Huber), which stirs jealousy in Paul, but the pair quickly continue on their way after Will's wife Annie (Hanna Brown) appears, acting strangely and warning them to leave. One sleepwalking incident in the woods later and Bea too begins acting strangely, causing an increasingly concerned Paul to investigate. But he isn't prepared for what he finds.
Janiak goes for the slow-burn approach throughout, generating an increasingly creepy atmosphere and saving the film's biggest and nastiest moments for an unsettling and genuinely chilling finale that will have audiences wincing and screaming in quick successon. Along the way, there are several subtle nods to other horror films (Possession, The Shining, every cabin-in-the-woods movie you can think of), while Leslie and Treadaway both deliver solid performances and have convincing chemistry (they also nail their respective US accents). In addition, the script gets some decent mileage out of playing around with a tried-and-tested horror theme, namely the idea of how well we really know those we love.
That said, some of the shock value is lost thanks to an early tip of the hand as to the exact nature of whatever's out there, something that won't be lost on genre fans alive to exactly those sorts of clues.
Screening at Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 27 Jun and Cineworld, Edinburgh, Sat 28 Jun as part of Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014.