Last night, I turned over to Chiller and watched the brilliant 2006 horror film, The Woods.
Why Was I Watching It?
I ended up watching The Woods almost at random. I didn’t want to go out last night because it’s Texas-OU weekend and that meant that the streets of Dallas would probably be full of drunk people from Tulsa. Even more importantly, I couldn’t go out because I’m recovering from a sprained ankle.
Normally, under those circumstances, I would have watched and live tweeted an original SyFy film. However, last night, SyFy was showing Fright Night which I had little interest in sitting through. So, instead, I turned over to Chiller and decided to give The Woods a try.
And that is how I randomly discovered one of the best horror films that I’ve recently seen.
What Was It About?
The year is 1965. Angry teenager Heather (Agnes Bruckner) starts a fire in a forest. Frustrated by their daughter’s rebellious nature, her parents enroll her at Falburn Academy, a boarding school that sits in the middle of the woods. Because she is the only redhead at the school, Heather is an immediate outsider who finds herself being taunted by the blonde Samantha (Rachel Nichols) and called “Firecrotch” by her other classmates.
However, Heather has more problems that just a bunch of anti-redhead bigots. She has nightmares where voices seem to call to her from the woods. Her friends Marcy and Ann both disappear from their beds, leaving behind a pile of dead leaves. Meanwhile, the school’s mysterious headmistress (Patricia Clarkson) insists that nothing strange is happening…
I wasn’t expecting much from The Woods. After all, it was a film that was released straight-to-DVD in 2006 and Chiller doesn’t exactly have a reputation for showing the best films. But, oh my God, y’all — The Woods turned out to be such a good film! The Woods is an atmospheric and surprisingly well-acted film that’s full of haunting imagery and memorable details. Much like Dario Argento’s Suspiria (which has a similar plot to this film), The Woods is a triumph of both style and substance.
While the entire film is well-acted, special mention should be made of Patricia Clarkson, who gives a performance that is both menacing and humorous. Genre fans will be happy to see Bruce Campbell in the role of Bruckner’s well-meaning father.
Finally, I have to admit that, as a member of the 2% of the population who have been blessed with red hair, I have a special appreciation for this film. Behind all of the scares, The Woods provides a compelling portrait of the discrimination that those of us with red hair struggle with every single day. From the minute Heather enters Falburn Academy, she is the subject of constant prejudice because of the color of her hair. As someone who has had to endure countless comments about redheads not having souls, I both related to and appreciated the film’s sensitivity to those of us in the 2%.
What Did Not Work?
Over on the film’s imdb page, there’s some debate as to whether or not the term “Firecrotch” was in use back in 1965. Personally, I think that’s nitpicking. The fact of the matter is that anti-redhead prejudice has always been with us. If people in the 60s didn’t attack us by calling us “Firecrotch,” they undoubtedly called us something equally bad. As far as I’m concerned, the entire film worked perfectly.
“Oh my God! Just like me!” Moments
Almost the entire film was an “Oh my God! Just like me!” moment, largely because the main character was a redhead and had to deal with constant anti-redhead prejudice. (“Oh my God! Just like me!”)
At one point, Samantha taunts Heather by asking, “Is your pubic hair red?” which is the exact same question that I got asked several times throughout high school, though in my case, I was usually asked by a guy with a smirk on his face. (“You’ll never know,” I would reply.) Heather then finds herself being repeatedly called “Firecrotch” by people who are jealous of her red hair and again, oh my god! Just like me!
Finally, as I mentioned above, I sprained my ankle last Wednesday and, as such, I’ve spent the last few days recovering. Amazingly enough, about halfway through the film, Heather twists her ankle. She spends the rest of the movie either on crutches or painfully limping. Oh my God! Just like me!
(As a quick aside, can I just say how much I HATE crutches!? Oh my God, they’re the worst…)
I am tempted to say that the main lesson to be learned from The Woods is that it’s not easy being a redhead. However, I knew that before I watched the film. I also knew that you should stay out of the woods, which is the main reason why you’ll never catch me camping.
So, the most important lesson that I learned is that everyone should see The Woods.