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Director Lucky McKee’s THE WOODS ($25) is very much an old school horror movie that would seem perfectly at home during the 1970’s, although the addition of some gratuitous female nudity would make the film far more at home during that decade. Personally, I like the creepy atmosphere that permeates THE WOODS and some of the subtleties of the film’s visual style. In terms of storyline, genre fans will notice some similarities between THE WOODS and Dario Argento’s SUSPIRIA, I know I sure did. The whole new female student and at a creepy private academy with an oddball faculty certainly smacks of the Argento classic.

Set in 1965 and taking place at a remote all girls school in the middle of a forest, THE WOODS follows Heather Fasulo (Agnes Brucker), who is enrolled Falburn Academy by her parents as a means of getting the troublesome teen under control. Of course, right from the start, Heather has problems with the one of the school’s nasty girl cliques, which is headed up by the bitchy Samantha (Rachel Nichols), who goes out of her way to make the new arrival’s life hell. Making the whole new school experience even worse for Heather is the fact that gets she isn’t making any inroads with the school’s downright odd faculty members, or its equally strange headmistress Ms. Traverse (Patricia Clarkson). The faculty isn’t the only strange thing about Falburn Academy; as the school itself is being overgrown by the ominous surrounding woods… not to mention a rash of disappearances from amongst the student body, which seems to have little impact on the staff of the school. The cast of THE WOODS also features Bruce Campbell, Emma Campbell, Marcia Bennett, Colleen Williams, Lauren Birkell, Jane Gilchrist, Ivana Shein, Jude Beny, Angela Bettis, Stéphanie Breton, Melissa Carter and Gordon Currie.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made THE WOODS available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays- a fullscreen version is also provided, but who cares? The widescreen transfer is great, offering good levels of sharpness and detail throughout, except for some of the darker sequences, which seem intentionally murky. Colors are strongly rendered and stable, while flesh tones are wholly natural. Both blacks and whites are accurate and contrast is very good. The film elements are free from defects. A grain structure is noticeable in the darker sequences. Digital compression artifacts are not a concern.

THE WOODS comes with a fairly well mixed Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The track is quite creepy and atmospheric and makes good use of the outlying channels, especially for little zingers. Fidelity is good, the period music well rendered and the sound effects are believable. Voices have a nice natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. A French language track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and French subtitles. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few bonus trailers.

As I stated above, THE WOODS is very much an old school horror film, but then again, I like old school. Sony’s DVD looks and sounds just fine, making THE WOODS worth checking out on disc.



The Woods (Widescreen Edition) (2006)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2006 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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