August 2, 2016 The Wicked Woods (Movie Review)
Recently released Spanish Drama, Fantasy, Horror film, The Wicked Woods (also known as Perfidy and Perfidia), is a simmering tale from Writer/Director Lucio A. Rojas (Zombie Dawn 2011, Path 2015). Filmed on a meager budget of $25,000, made in Chile, and released by Filmrise in North America on Blu-ray/VOD as of May 3rd, 2016, The Wicked Woods has a surreal, otherworldly aura around it.
At the beginning of the story, young lovers Laura and Ruben play games in the woods behind a small cottage. A short time into hide and seek, a robed man with a skull mask appears, the fun ends. Laura screams, while Ruben covers his ears terrified. Fast forward fifteen years, Laura (Catherine Mazoyer: Mama Mechona 2014, Los 80 2010-2014) and Ruben (Inigo Urrutia: Confirmer Amsted #Lavidacambia 2014, Los anon dorados 2015) are reunited at the same cottage in the woods. Laura is now married to another man with children, while Ruben is unmarried, but remains Laura’s lover nonetheless. They arrive in the hope of having some time alone before Laura’s children are dropped off.
Immediately, each begins to feel off, not quite right. Laura hears strange voices and noises, convinced someone watches from outside. Ruben uses the opportunity to tell Laura the story his Grandmother told him regarding a weird cult in the woods. The leader fell in love with a local woman, only to be reviled by both the community and his followers. The information unsettles Laura, but Ruben dismisses its likelihood.
As time draws on, Laura reveals to Ruben, she is ready to give up her children and husband to be with him. Laura’s pregnant with his child and wants to start again, with Ruben, somewhere else. Ruben is stunned by the news, and becomes speechless, torn and unresponsive. He spends more time alone in the woods, disappearing for hours, and finally overnight. Laura continues to hear and see unexplainable things around the cottage. In desperation, Laura searches for Ruben, but the robed man reappears and unsettles Laura further. Ruben’s behavior grows increasingly more bizarre, and he spends more time in the woods. He comes across his other long lost love Leonor (Ximena del Solar: Fascinum 2010, Path 2015), which further complicates his situation with Laura. After a final goodbye, Ruben tells Laura he is going into the woods and no matter what she hears do not go out there. Laura does not listen, leading to the culmination of events in an open ending.
Despite tight acting and cinematography by Javiera Farfan (Path 2015, Insurreccion 2016), the story limbers along. Much of it is comprised of Laura and Ruben wandering around the woods in search of unseen noises or people. Most of the scary effects happen off screen, which does not aid the gaps in the story. It is difficult to care about either main character, having no basis for doing so. Further, to ascertain the full depth and understanding of the story line, it is necessary to watch the movie a number of times, and important not to miss one subtitle.
There are many subtle nuances in the film which are easily missed, and not all viewers will have the patience to obtain them. It is certainly a story with depth, and potential for further development. The complicated relationship between Laura and Ruben is a stand-out part of the movie, one perhaps worthy of expansion. That being said, The Wicked Woods is not a film for everyone, and requires patience, but the payoff is worth it for those who take the chance. CrypticRock.com gives The Wicked Woods 3 out of 5 stars.