Something in the Woods’ opening instils in you interest and intrigue for what might come. Title cards inform us that 600,000 people go missing in the United States each year, and that 89-92% are recovered, albeit some are no longer alive. For those poor souls that remain lost no-one is tracking the how’s or why’s of their disappearance. An intriguing premise, but one that writer Deanna Gomez and director Alexander T. Hwang do their best to undermine with a framing story built around a revenge-fuelled woman (Vienna Hayden) kidnapping the reporter (Nicole Cinaglia) who she believes is responsible for her family’s downfall and the loss of her inheritance. And she takes her out into the woods. Where there happens to be a monster.
From beginnings reminiscent of an X-Files episode Something in the Woods spends a lot of time and effort on a revenge story which is both leaden and tiresome. Odd tonal shifts and erratic plotting lead to a confused narrative that only comes to life when the creature emerges from the undergrowth. While the CGI may be a little unconvincing at times the design at least is interesting – think a toothier version of Gollum – and there are moments of genuine jeopardy. But then we’re returned to the dull dynamic between the two women and any momentum is squandered.
While this is ambitious filmmaking on limited resources the poor acting and uninspiring direction largely detract from any positives. Something in the Woods is a 30-minute short film extended to – barely – feature length and there is nowhere near enough interest in the character’s plight to carry the story.