A mildly creepy, low-voltage thriller, “Dark Woods” tackles a theme all too familiar from countless American horror films. A bunch of characters are isolated, by some devious plotting, in a remote forest hut and then are menaced by Something Wicked in the woods. By the standards of most of those American films, “Dark Woods” is tame, though there are a few neatly handled shock moments. Mild prospects are in store for this DV-shot item.
This time, the excuse to get the characters in harm’s way is more contrived than usual. Gunnar (Bjorn Floberg), a TV producer, is planning a reality show (rougher and more audacious than anything heretofore, he claims). He assembles a youthful team to work with him, but insists that they join him for four days on a survival course deep in the forest apparently to see how they cope with stress.
The four are Lasse (Kristoffer Joner), a gentle guy who likes to phone his mother every day; Elin (Eva Rose), a Swedish girl who has worked with Gunnar before; Per (Marko Kanic), a boastful type; and the sultry Sara (Sampda Sharma).
They journey on foot over difficult terrain to a dilapidated cabin by a lake to begin their training course, but soon strange things start to happen. After finding an abandoned tent, they discover the naked body of a woman in the lake and become aware that a shadowy figure is prowling near the cabin. When one of the group is found murdered, the survivors go into panic mode.
Director Pal Oie emphasizes character and atmosphere rather than the more explicit gore which fans of this genre have come to expect, and a willing cast, with Rose and Sharma standouts as the resourceful femmes, help turn this familiar material into an acceptable time-waster.
However, the transfer from DV to 35mm film is none too successful, and the film has a disconcerting vid look, with annoying strobe effects, which at times diminish the eerie atmosphere that the filmmakers tried so hard to establish.