Deep in the Woods
Dir: Lionel Delplanque
Star: Clotilde Courau, Clément Sibony, Alexia Stresi, Vincent Lecoeur, François Berléand
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 2000
Format: DVD R2

Five young actors and actresses are invited to perform their own weird version of "Little Red Riding Hood" in an isolated chateau by the mysterious Baron De Fersen as a birthday present for his autistic grandson Nicholas. But a serial killer is on the loose in the area and the nerve jangling tension, grows along with the players' petty jealousies and anguished egos as they are systematically murdered in gruesome fashion one by one.

French horror movies are rare things, few and far between in fact. So when they actually made one, they were quite surprised that this low budget horror/thriller fare took them by storm, and tapped into a genre vein which had up until then, relied upon imported titles from Great Britain and the U.S. The runaway success of Deep in the Woods is what kick started the French horror genre into production and has since brought us offerings such as Brotherhood of the Wolf. The story here is basically a spin on the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale, which features heavily throughout this interesting, if sometimes surreal story. A French song which is based on the fairytale is also a major mcguffin here ensuring that the whole thing is steeped in the fairytale. The killer even dresses up as the big bad wolf in order to slaughter the young thesps.

Deplanque's grim thriller has a strange dream like quality to it and a dark mood which clings to it. Some set pieces are very "haunted house" in style and content, but they also have that sense of impending dread, which is likely to keep you on the edge of your seat. Deep in the woods is allegedly regarded as the French Scream, even though director Deplanque went on record to state that this was more Tim Burton and Dario Argento influenced than Wes Craven or John Carpenter's oeuvres.

Jeanne the cute, mute lesbian played by Alexia Stresi and her partner Sophie played by Clotilde Courau. They work well together, and treat the viewer to a brief flash of nudity and a lesbian scene (oh, those French film makers) . The baron has more than a bit of a taste for Vodka, as he has it in everything, not to mention young men which leads to an awkward sexual stance, tackled with Axel taking a "shine" to young Wilfred. The copper is played by Michel Muller, who to be honest is rather redundant and does a better job in Wasabi as a sidekick.

Some impressive direction throughout and great cinematography, but the ending appears rather rushed and very hurried to be honest. The film is atmospheric and creepy, building some excellent atmosphere most of the way through, but the last 5 minutes trashes the careful and steadily built atmosphere and goes very continental. The unmasking of the killer is nicely done but the character starts to ramble off on a protracted monologue, which would make even a Bond bad guy weep. The script tends to let the film down really, the acting is good and the direction is excellent but there are some undeveloped characters and lots of loose ends left. The chateau is a fantastic backdrop to the film and the production has a distinct gothic feel to it. The visual style of the film owes much to Dario Argento and Tim Burton as their influence is evident. The imposing gothic interior frames the story well enough. The filmmakers even manage to use some nice unobtrusive CGI effects in places, which do work rather well. The pacing isn't brilliant, but it works well and layers a good atmosphere to the film. Ultimately, Deep in the woods is mildy creative in places and artistically put together. An unpleasant demise awaits most of the young actors, which involves all manner of things from acid to a speargun. Suffice to say that, apart from the ending this is a very cool horror/thriller.

Deep in the woods is a moody, atmospheric and sexy little French film. No huge surprises in the plot, but visually it is excellent. If you like Dario Argento, then you'll love this, but switch off 5 minutes before the end or you'll probably hate it.


Don't go there alone

Rating: 3 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 anamorphic Good quality transfer
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Pretty cool
Features Unimpressive menu
Star and director filmographies
Original theatrical trailer
Moderately interesting Alan Jones film notes
The usual "Tartan Terror" trailer reel
Verdict Not a brilliant disc, but well presented main feature which is the important thing.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home