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Wake Wood


Stars: Aidan Gillen, Eva Birthistle, Timothy Spall, Ella Connolly, Amelia Crowley, Ruth McCabe, Brian Gleeson, Dan Gordon

Director: David Keating

Even horror films need to be plausible, at least while you're watching 'em. Although nicely shot, acted with straight faces and well put together, Wake Wood just doesn't fulfil this basic criterion.

Even on little details, the film falls down. No responsible couple - in this case a vet (Gillen) and his pharmacist wife (Birthistle, rather ironically currently starring in TV's Waking the Dead) - would let their small daughter walk to school on her own. Not in this day and age. So there must be more believable ways of killing off the child than having her mauled to death by a savage dog en route to school.

At any rate, vet and wife flee to the small border village of Wake Wood, where they learn that dead bodies can be used in a fiery pagan ritual that results in the 'rebirth' of a loved one, though only for three days. Alas, we're never convinced that any of this could happen, in spite of the efforts of Spall as the smoothly malevolent local squire, and it's obvious that it will end in tears, especially with the couple, having 'transgressed' along the way in a 'twist' that's so obvious it hardly qualifies as such.

The ending is neatly contrived, though, even if it's not clear how someone could come back for any period after a rather unearthly demise. Lighting and handling of the action scenes is top-notch, and there's lots of ick and gore for movie blood-hounds.

David Quinlan

Ireland/Sweden 2009. UK Distributor: Vertigo (Exclusive/Hammer). Colour.
90 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 22 Mar 2011