Tuesday, 24 March 2015


A group of teens go camping, then they start to die.
It's not original, but it works, provided the execution is up to scratch.
Before I watched The Woods Within I noticed that it fared pretty damn well in the recent Horror Society Awards (don't check them until after you see the film though, there's a pretty big spoiler!) The HSAs don't tend to nominate turkeys, so I was eagerly looking to seeing what director Brandon Prewitt  had in store for us.
After a quick bit of interaction with Prewitt (who really is an all-around great guy), I received a link to an online screener to the film.
Would it prove a worthy nominee? Or would it be best used as firewood?
Read on…


Dir: Brandon Prewitt
Starring: Tori Ahr, Tyler Riley, Jon Kovach, Courtney Durrough, Joel Liles, Hannah Herdt, Shane Jossart, Clay Orem

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I’ll try not to spoil too much here but read on at your own risk.

Teen Nicole (Ahr) is about to graduate and, before she and her friends head off to different colleges, they plan to go on one last camping trip to celebrate. However, much to Nicole’s changrin, her mother tells her that if she wants to go she must take her younger brother Devin (Riley) along with her.
So soon the siblings head off to a lovely rural backdrop, joined for the ride by Nicole’s massive dick of a boyfriend Trent (Kovach), her bitchy blonde friend Brittany (Durrough), jock Colin (Liles), party animal Chad (Jossart) and fun but sensitive Lauren (Herdt). To keep Devin distracted (and more importantly out of her friends' hair), Nicole agrees to bring Devin's punky pal Blake (Orem) along.
Unbeknownst to them, Nicole and Devin’s uncle Randy (portrayed by director Prewitt) was murdered by a masked assailant on the eve of their arrival — and his won’t be the last death at the site…

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): I regularly use the term 'throwback' when reviewing horror movies. As most fans of the genre will attest, the iconic titles of yesteryear were what made us horror fans to begin with. The Woods Within understands that and looks to emulate the whodunnit style of slasher — one in which a masked assailant offs our cast of pretty young things, but most of the fun comes from trying to guess exactly whose face is under that mask.
It is a combination of simple filmmaking but with just a little more thought and intelligence in the story. In The Woods Within, Prewitt doesn't just understand that, he delivers. The writing gives the plot some compelling twists and turns and manages to avoid many of the cliches and pitfalls of the genre.
Key to this achievement is giving us interesting and realistic characters and the young cast are well up to the task of bringing Prewitt's characters to life. Ahr is a fantastic leading lady who, along with the equally brilliant Herdt (who also worked on the surprisingly accomplished special effects) was the most sympathetic of the characters. Real credit must also go to Kovach who absolutely nailed the dickish side to his character, making him seem a real arsehole. You can't help but hope that somebody shuts him up, which means Kovach did his job impeccably as far as I'm concerned!
On a similar note the gorgeous Burroughs was a blast as catty Brittany. I've a feeling we'll see much more of her in the future.
The two younger boys are also excellent, each having complex and interesting character arcs to portray. For the most part, they hit the spot. Good work fellas!
Perhaps what I enjoyed most about The Woods Within was the realism of it all. These were a group of believable teens falling prey to realistic methods of murder and responding in a suitably panicky but not cartoonish fashion — in a lot of ways it reminded me of the excellent All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. Not just in the teen characters and rural setting, but in the soft, almost dreamlike look of the flick at times. 
Recognising the beauty of the great outdoors, cinematographer Kristian A. Quino ensures that the location work is shot to perfection. Also, the soundtrack was pretty damn cool and definitely added to the picture. In fact that might be the best way to describe this movie — from the twisted plot and Prewitt's assured and confident direction to the talented young cast, The Woods Within is a cool flick.

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Earlier I praised the movie's believable characterisation. However, this is a double-edged sword. The teens of The Woods Within are all very realistic, however, most teens are a bit irritating, selfish and generally moody and unpleasant (no offence to any teens out there 😉)
What this means is that the vast majority of the characters in The Woods Within are pretty unlikeable and it's difficult to root for too many of them.
Still, the realism should be applauded and thankfully, as the movie progresses the youngsters actually show another side to their character so that is softened. This is not another Sorority Row (praise the Lord) a film in which I pretty much sided with the killer within two minutes and stuck with him for the rest of the movie.
Speaking of the killer, early in the film there were a couple of clues as to who it might be that I assumed were just a red herring. They weren't. Perhaps more gentle foreshadowing could have kept the mystery a little better. A clever zigzag mid-movie serves to throw the audience, but ultimately this was a twist that didn't exactly shock me.
Speaking of the killer, the character did do one thing that has become a little cliched - the Bond/Scoobydoo villain expo dump monologue explaining the motivation and methods to their nefarious plan. Unfortunately it's a necessary evil, but it does grate a little. This one is delivered brilliantly though, so that certainly helps.
Finally, I know I praised the acting earlier but there was the odd clunky line delivery here and there. It certainly wasn't due to any laziness on the performers' part, instead seeming to come from this young cast's lack of experience. They manage the key scenes pretty well and, for the most part, these rare awkward exchanges didn't adversely affect my enjoyment of the film, so no harm, no foul.

THE VERDICT: Low-budget and pretty simple but well-made and hip as hell, The Woods Within is a great throwback to the dead teens in the woods movies of yesteryear but with some modern sensibilities. The cast are strong, Prewitt's direction superb and the plot dark and twisted enough to make this an easy recommendation. The Woods Within is horror done well — check it out.
Should you want to, you can buy the movie at a very reasonable price right here.
Also why not head over to the film's Facebook page and give it a Like to show some support? You can help Prewitt and the other folks at Studio 605 make their next movie, The Campground, by contributing here.

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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