Urban legends and the people who explore them. That’s fuelled films from Urban Legend to The Blair Witch Project and to many of its found-footage followers to count. Now writer Mario von Czapiewski (Cannibal Diner) and director Marcel Walz (Blood Feast, Seed 2) weigh in with their non-found-footage take on the theme Rootwood. Can it breath new life into the genre, or is it footage that should have been lost?
William (Tyler Gallant, Stalk) and Jessica (Elissa Dowling, Automation, Bus Party To Hell) are podcasters who’ve been offered a deal too good to be true. Laura Benott (Felissa Rose, Ugly Sweater Party, The Crossing) is offering to equip and finance them to shoot a documentary about an allegedly cursed forest. And, as it turns out, she is a legit producer with the cash to back up the offer. Of course, they agree. They recruit Erin (Sarah French, Art of the Dead, Hanukkah) and head out to the woods.
Once they get to the woods they’re subjected to creepy sights and sounds that range from William taking a shit in the woods to what looks like a water tower with names written in blood on it. And nearby there’s a noose. Did I mention the legend involves someone being hung? Well, it does, so the noose is doubly creepy. Against their better judgment, they stay and dig deeper.
There’s a twist ending, and a twist on the twist that isn’t nearly as original as the filmmakers think. There’s even another current film, Crypsis that uses it. But Rootwood runs into problems before that. It does a reasonably good job up until around the 50-minute mark. Then the stupid sets in.
One of the characters sees something in the dark that scares the shit out of them. So what do they do? Hide in the camper maybe? No, they grab their bag, say they’re done with this shit and head out on foot into the woods. The same woods they just saw the creature in. It’s downhill from there.
And that’s a shame because Rootwood was doing a good job despite the tired material. Walz manages to build an unsettling vibe, especially during the night scenes. If the film had just kept going in the direction it was going and maybe added a bit of gore it would have been a much better film.
Rootwood is out in the UK and should see a US release at some point next year. Check the film’s Facebook page for details.