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The Woodmen (2023) Review

The Woodmen is the new film from Joshua Brucker whose previous work includes Mothman and the “The Illinois Valley Murder Tapes” segment of Split Screen. Like them, The Woodmen is a found footage film, beginning with a series of title cards telling us that the government is covering up disappearances and deaths in the National Parks. And that two of those missing people are Connor Flynn (Connor Flynn, ZillaFoot, Closed for the Season) and Lana Haywood (Bailey Herrington, Late Checkout, The Sawyer Massacre).

Ash Hamilton (Holes in the Sky: The Sean Miller Story) plays himself hosting a podcast introduces the footage which starts with Connor going on about hybrid species, coverups, a cave that leads to Middle Earth and Green Berets wiping out everyone in a national park. They make the mistake of staying in the woods after dark, and deciding to check out a cave and fall prey to what looks like a homeless man in a filthy work shirt.

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That serves as a quick introduction to the situation before meet Dr. Scott Laroche (Dan Grogan, Orion, Mutilator 2) an expert on feral humans. He’s seen the video and along with Ben Logan (Hunter Nino, Lights Over Montgomery County, Ghost), the park ranger who found it, plans to go out and see if he can find proof of what happened to them. Also heading out into those woods is YouTuber Dawn (Anna Clary, Woke, Amityville Ripper) who plans on spreading her father’s ashes on the mountain where he was born.

Their footage, we are told, has been cut together to show an accurate timeline of the events of June 10, 2023.

Apart from consisting of two sets of footage edited together, The Woodmen begins like a typical found footage film. That means a lot of walking around in the woods with not a lot going on. Dr. Laroche talks to Logan and another ranger, then pokes around at the scene where the camera was discovered. Dawn talks to a couple of hikers she meets, then loses herself in thought at her destination. That means the three of them will be on the mountain after dark, which we know is not a good thing. It doesn’t take long until they know it too, as whatever it is that lives on the mountain makes its presence known.

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Brucker starts off on the right foot here, with some creepy footage of Dawn sitting alone in the dark as strange noises are heard and something is vaguely seen in the darkness behind her. Unfortunately, that’s followed by a somewhat similar scene with Laroche in his tent, which starts off well but then goes on way past the point where it stops having any effect. That, in turn, takes a lot away from the eventual appearance of, you guessed it, feral humans.

From here, The Woodmen turns into a found footage version of Wrong Turn or The Hills Have Eyes as the feral tribe stalk the three non-feral humans through the dark forest. This is well enough done, but doesn’t last nearly long enough before the film winds up with a long monologue and a last bit of found footage

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Brucker does a good job with the scenes involving the creatures, apart from the never ending tent scene. The sounds they make are creepy, and the scenes of them popping out of the darkness work nicely as well. Unfortunately, as with a good deal of DIY found footage films, there isn’t nearly enough of them. There is a mid-credit sequence with Michael Rock (Senior Cut Days, Target List) as himself, placing this film in the same universe as Tahoe Joe, and the “Greys: The Nevada Alien Incident” segment of Split Screen. It also sets up a sequel that has potential to be a much more action oriented film than this was.

If you’re a fan of microbudget found footage films, then you should find The Woodmen entertaining. Others may find that it offers too little, too late, and leaves too many questions unanswered. Hopefully they’ll be answered in the sequel if it happens.

The Woodmen is available on Digital. You can check the film’s website or Facebook page for more details.

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