She Came from the Woods (2022) Review
Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America” plays over the opening credits to She Came from the Woods, informing us that we’re back in the 80s, And since we’re also at summer camp, Camp Briarbrook to be specific, it’s also telling us that people are about to die.
Gilbert McCallister (William Sadler, The Hollow, Die Hard 2: Die Harder) runs Camp Briarbrook with the help of his daughter Heather (Cara Buono, Stranger Things, From Other Worlds) and grandsons Peter (Spencer List, Exploited, The Thinning: New World Order) and Shawn (Tyler Elliot Burke, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Midway). One more day and the 1987 season will be over, but a lot can happen in a day.
With the last busload of kids sent back to their parents, or so they think, the councilors turn their attention to other things, booze, sex, and summoning the spirit of Nurse Agatha (Madeleine Dauer, The Changed, The Murder Pact). And like every other year, the summoning fails. Or so they think.
She Came from the Woods is the fourth film I’ve seen from director Erik Bloomquist and his co-writer Carson Bloomquist. The other three, Long Lost, Ten Minutes to Midnight and Night at the Eagle Inn, have ranged from good to excellent so I was interested to see what they’d do with a retro summer camp film.
They actually get it off to a somewhat slow start, one that’s much more concerned with the councilors’ crushes and Gilbert’s possible retirement than anything related to the genre. Thankfully they do it so deftly that I didn’t realize how far in the film got before, things start to shift. While the staff wonders if shy, quiet, Danny, played by the director Erik Bloomquist whose acting credits include High Heat and Damon’s Revenge, will work up the nerve to make a move on Kellie (Emily Keefe, Further Back Slightly, Departure) a busload of kids goes missing.
And that’s the other area where the Bloomquists change things up, making She Came from the Woods a supernatural film rather than another Friday the 13th clone. Instead, it’s a ghost story crossed with a killer kids film, neither of which commonly crossed over with the summer camp slaughter films despite seeming to be natural combinations.
The characters however are the one place where She Came from the Woods plays by the book. There’s the usual group of stereotypes, Peter is the goofy slacker, Dylan (Adam Weppler, Alien Warfare, Twelfth Night) the obnoxious horndog, Mike (Ehad Berisha, Weekenders, Love at Last Sight) is the jock, etc. The characterizations are a bit better than you might expect given the genre, and Weppler takes it the extra mile and had me wishing Dylan a painful death.
The film is billed as a horror comedy, but to be honest I didn’t notice a lot of humour. She Came from the Woods plays it mostly straight with the odd twist of dark humour and it works quite well. Where I did find myself grinning though were the references to films as diverse as Madman, The Devil Times Five, and even Irreversible. And while it’s nowhere near as bloody as that film, the effects by John Lauterbach (The Nest, Red Eye) get progressively bloodier as the film goes on. The effects are CGI-free and the stunt department helps out with a fire gag that’s so much better than the computer generated ones.
Erik and Carson Bloomquist are now four for four with me. She Came from the Woods is an enjoyably lightweight film, the cinematic equivalent of a tale told around a campfire. Mainframe Pictures will release She Came from the Woods in theatres on February 10th. Blu-ray, Digital, and VOD availability dates haven’t been announced yet. You can check their Facebook page for announcements. In the meantime, FilmTagger can suggest some titles for you to watch.