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Made in 2007, Dead Wood tells the story of four friends taking a trip to the woods, hoping to get out of the city for a weekend for a peaceful, relaxing weekend. After hitting a deer and getting attacked by bees, instead of going home, they decide to stay the night, waking up to find a mysterious girl sitting by their campfire, looking for her boyfriend. One by one, they’re hunted down by something, but what?
Dead Wood was made for what is almost literally, NO budget, by three directors (David Bryant, Sebastian Smith, and Richard Stiles), and really, it succeeds where most other low budget fair fails – it actually manages to be scary. Not over the top scary, mind you. The lack of a budget does lead to some issues with acting, and the camera image isn’t exactly high-def quality, but it’s a worthy effort on the part of all involved.
The film does take a while to get off the ground, establishing the characters before the story gets going. It’s very deliberately paced, trying to infuse a mystery while keeping things suspenseful. While I appreciate the ambiguity of leaving certain things unsaid, I think that the story could have used a bit more touching up. You have to suspend belief WAY too much – if each of my friends starts disappearing while hanging out with a mysterious girl, I’m apt not to still hang with her. Maybe it’s just me.
While not an entirely successful effort, Dead Wood does manage to be creepy once the momentum gets going and, despite ending on a whimper instead of a bang, delivers a solid DTV horror experience. Worth the time to check it out as a rental, or for cheap on DVD.