Wake wood is a sort of cross between Pet Semetery and The Wicker Man. Set in rural Ireland it follows a young couple who have recently moved into remote village to start a new life after their daughter was savaged to death by a dog. The father, Patrick (Aiden Gillen) is a vet and his wife Louise (Eva Birthistle) works in a pharmacy. One night, when their car conveniently breaks down, they approach a lonely house in the hope of help. Louise stumbles upon a strange ritual were in a man is seemingly born from a cocoon of hardened manure. Later they are approached by Arthur (played by the wonderful Timothy Spall) the genial village patriarch who comes over like a sort of cuddly Lord Summerisle. He explains that the villagers practice an age old ritual of resurrection were in a person can be brought back from the dead for three days only. The couple, of course, jump at the idea of seeing their little girl Alice again. But there are certain rules (there always are in these films!). The person must have been dead for less than one year of there will be dire consequences. Also the resurrected cannot stray beyond the edges of the village and the titular woods that surround them. The ritual requires a newly dead corpse and a ‘relic’ from the body of the person whom is to be brought back.
In a genuinely harrowing scene Patrick and Louise dig up Alice’s grave and hack open her coffin to take a finger bone and a locket.
When a local farmer is killed by an unfeasibly large bull. His boy is used in the ritual. Placed inside the cocoon of cow dung with the relics and baked hard the body transforms into that of Alice who is reborn from the shit womb recalling little of her death.
All things seem fine at first but Patrick and Louise have been keeping a secret from Arthur and the villagers. Alice has been dead for over a year. Soon the innocent little girl transforms into a psychotic killer with sinister psychic powers a-la The Midwich Cuckoos. Alice is brilliantly played by 9 year old Ella Connolly who has a look of wide eyed innocence as she hacks and disembowels her way through Wakewood’s residents.
This is a tremendously acted and emotionally charged film were the grief of the bereaved parents is far more horrific than any amount of blood and guts. At the end there are not one but two twists.
It’s great to see Hammer return after an absence of 30 odd years. Let’s hope all of their output is of such a high quality. Now how about some Fortean ‘ folklore themed horror? Curse of the Big Grey Man or Revenge of the Lambton Worm anyone?