One of my favorite indie horror films has always been Lucky McKee‘s 2002 May, which introduced us to Angela Bettis in a “Frankenstein”-inspired story that also starred Jeremy Sisto (Wrong Turn). Following the release, McKee was hired by Lionsgate to direct The Woods from a screenplay by David Ross.
Set in 1965 New England, the film starred Agnes Bruckner as a troubled girl who encounters mysterious happenings in the woods surrounding an isolated girls school that she was sent to by her disinterested parents. Evil Dead‘s Bruce Campbell also appeared.
It was a hotly anticipated title for horror fans, only it sat on Sony’s shelf for a long time before its eventual release on home video in 2006 (after a slew of festival screenings including Fantasia). It’s always been a title that’s been fairly hard to access, although it was eventually released on Blu-ray three years ago, and now has joined Amazon’s Prime streaming service for subscribers.
While the film never had wide appeal, it had strong support from the community with time being more than kind to McKee’s sophomoric effort. As Wiki notes:
Brian Holcomb of the independent film review website Beyond Hollywood wrote: “The Woods plays like a classic Lewton film of the ’40’s, where the emphasis was on telling a good yarn without much ado and wrapping it up in a tightly wound 70 minutes.” Film journalist Nick Schager noted that the film “proves to be one of the most polished and inventive horror flicks of the still-ongoing year, a synthesis of classical supernatural and sexualized imagery that expands upon, rather than simply regurgitates, its celebrated predecessors,” and compared it to Suspiria (1977) and Carrie (1976). DVD Talk‘s Scott Weinberg praised the film’s performances as “uniformly excellent” and also praised the cinematography and musical score.