Vampire movies have been done to death so much that even describing them as ‘done to death’ has become a bit of cliché. Redwood is, in theory, a movie about lurking bloodsuckers that don’t do well in sunlight; but it certainly isn’t a boring old vampire movie.
Musician Josh (Mike Beckingham) is recovering from cancer, and his partner Beth (Medici actress Tatjana Inez Nardone) is doing her best at being a loving and supportive partner.. On the advice of Josh’s sleazy manager, the two are taking a refreshing camping holiday out amongst the redwood trees in an isolated woodland. Nordone and Beckingham pull off a strong performance as a young couple who’ve been through rough times. For the first half of the movie this is a tale of two people who are hiding something from each other going through some progressively more and more spooky woods.
Tom Paton’s previous movie, Pandorica, did a lot with very little; starting slow and then turning in to a helter-skelter race as the protagonists ran to avoid stronger and more powerful forces. Redwood does something similar. This is a vampire flick, but not in the Lost Boys or Twilight vein. Paton’s monsters are screaming wood dwelling cannibals, their mere presence is enough to provide scare after scare. Part Descent, part Wolf Creek, and part stylistic music video, Paton uses camera cunning and practical effects to make this low budget horror feature look unique and striking. The location itself is easily one of the stars; beautiful, brooding and haunted.
Nicholas Brendon puts in a strong turn as a twitchy and almost psychotic forest ranger. Better known to genre fans as ‘the guy who played Xander in Buffy’, the former Scooby Gang member is a clever bit of casting. It’s a short if knowing performance; a nice nod to gentler horror stories. The main cast easily outshine him, however. Beckingham is especially notable and certainly one to watch out for in future movies.
Redwood is a horror movie that has been lurking for a while – enjoying a strong buzz as it’s moved from film festival to festival – but until recently has been a bit too elusive for the average horror fan to find. It’s good to see it unleashed into the wild via DVD, and we suspect this will swiftly become something of a cult classic thanks to the fast pacing, amazing acting and cameo appearance of a faded icon of horror. Certainly one to add to your collection.
REDWOOD / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: TOM PATON / STARRING: MIKE BECKINGHAM, TATJANA INEZ NARDONE, NICHOLAS BRENDON / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 26TH