“Woodland Grey” is an indie horror movie with a frustrating slow burn that finishes without a strong payoff, but it’s well made. The quality production values, strong performances from the cast, great moments of gore, and unsettling visuals outweigh the vagueness that plagues the project overall.
A strange, disturbed man named William (Ryan Blakely) living alone in the woods saves the life of a hiker named Emily (Jenny Raven) after she hits her head by a waterfall. She eventually wakes up, and immediately gets the sense that something isn’t quite right. When Emily makes a horrifying discovery in the dilapidated shed behind the man’s makeshift home, chaos ensues. Emily inadvertently unleashes something that should’ve stayed locked away forever.
The simplicity in the narrative works well here, but co-writer / director Adam Reider‘s storytelling is draggy. He relies heavily on the general creepiness of the forest, something that’s totally universal, but does so at the expense of satisfying his viewers. The film weaves dream sequences and memories in a way that’s incredibly aggravating, playing with the audience by blending flashbacks and reality and fantasy that becomes far too abstract. There are too many questions as to the where and why all of this is happening. Is the forest a metaphor for the afterlife or hell? Is it a fantasy dimension? An alternate universe? A nightmarish delusion? Who knows?
The film presents a good mystery, but very few actual answers. I love projects that are open to interpretation but after investing almost two hours, I want a little closure.
Things get really strange when Emily and the man try to navigate their way out of the forest’s grasp, where everyone becomes unsure of what’s real and what’s a vision. The woods play mind games with them both, and “Woodland Grey” becomes very loose with its story. It falls apart a little in the last act, but it’s still compelling.