"The Woods" is an aimless satire with no narrative shape -- and no compelling character dynamics or sharp perspective to compensate.
One of several Sundance movies this year that illustrate the perils of shooting with little or no script — presumably hoping structure will magically manifest in the editing room — “The Woods” has the not-bad idea of letting Gen Y-ers go “Lord of the Flies” on their own after society collapses. But this aimless satire has no narrative shape — and no compelling character dynamics or sharp perspective to compensate. Distribution is likely to be solely of the DIY download type.
As Dean’s (Justin Phillips) voiceover narration informs, civilization is seriously wobbling for various reasons, so eight early-twentysomethings repair to the Oregon redwoods to start fresh. They’re ill equipped for off-grid life, however, having brought all their electronics, toys, junk food and raver clothes; skill sets stretch no further than face-painting. When the society left behind really does implode, and power sources die, these grownup children — particularly pontificating leader Daniel (Toby David) — haven’t the faintest idea what to do next. Jokes about kids panicking without Facebook or Twitter are already tired, and “The Woods” really doesn’t have anything bigger on its mind. Wyatt Garfield’s lensing and the interesting soundtrack elevate an otherwise gormless mess.