Woods Witch Poster

Woods Witch (2023) Review

Woods Witch, not to be confused with Wood Witch: The Awakening, begins with the standard found footage title card telling us that what we are about to see is real and compiled from footage “found in the Allensville Woods along with online footage and police bodycam footage”. It also, in the style of classic exploitation films, promises that it contains “some of the most bizarre, disgusting and disturbing images ever put on screen.”

That footage begins with video of Garrett Gaspar (James Duval, Donnie Darko, Beast Mode) who briefly attempts a bizarre French accent before a ghostly something or other attacks him. Cut to video from Jonah (Shawn C. Phillips, Amityville in the Hood, 16 Bits) whose name is misspelled Johna in the channel’s name, and Jocelyn (Lauren Francesca, Catskill Park, Badland) two aspiring influencers.

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They desperately need to attract viewers and after a disastrous visit with Jocelyn’s mother (Sally Kirkland, The Haunting of Hell Hole Mine, 80 for Brady) they decide to go the Blair Witch route and do a 48 Hour Challenge in the woods where Garrett got attacked. I think we all know how this is going to turn out.

Apart from starring, Phillips and Francesca also co-directed Woods Witch from a script by Phillips. With his background being in YouTube and shooting short films it’s not surprising that Woods Witch has an episodic feel to it, like a collection of shorts designed to showcase various celebrity cameos strung together rather than a single story.

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There’s an interview with the mayor of the town the woods are in (Lisa Wilcox, The Church, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master), Tom Sizemore (Abstruse, Mission from Outer Space) appears as a prisoner with a connection to the woods, etc. Most of this is played for laughs with some very mixed results. As I frequently say, comedy is a very subjective thing, and if you’re a fan of Phillips’ style of comedy you should love this. I found some of it funny but some of it was just too silly for my tastes. That especially applies to giving characters “funny” names like Yourgei Jegmeov or Feldman Haim.

There’s a bit about trying to cash in on the fame of another, more popular YouTuber Dacia (Kelly Lynn Reiter, Project Legion, Amityville Uprising), and then Woods Witch finally gets into the woods. And after it does things do pick up and we start to get a bit of horror to go with the comedy, though it’s arguable whether there’s enough to really call this a horror comedy.

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The arrival of Robert LaSardo (Of the Devil, Sky Sharks) as a man who claims to be looking for his lost girlfriend adds a sense of menace to the proceedings. Then then Jocelyn runs into Lucia (Lorelei Linklater, American Trash, Bomb City) a nature girl who introduces them to the rest of her cult which includes Melora (Sadie Katz, Space Wars: Quest for the Deepstar, End Times) and Giselle (Eva Hamilton, Sawed Off, Appetite for Sin) which sets up the eventual climax.

In the end, Woods Witch is a somewhat plotless and anarchistic film that tosses barbs at a lot of targets from found footage films in general and Blair Witch clones in particular, to influencers and politicians. It’s hit or miss, and on the overly goofy side, but as I said earlier, if you’re coming into this as a fan of Phillips you should get your money’s worth. If not you can always play “Where do I know them from?” with all the familiar faces in the cast.

Woods Witch is currently available to preorder from SRS Cinema.

Our Score

1 thought on “Woods Witch (2023) Review”

  1. I played Feldman Haim in the movie. It means a lot to see someone mention my character name. I understand someone not liking it, but I chose it as a nod to the 2 Corey’s.

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