Wake Wood is an Irish horror film that focuses on the death and rejuvenation of a nine-year-old girl named Alice (Ella Connolly). After Alice’s death, her parents, Patrick (Aidan Gillen) and Louise (Eva Birthistle) decide they are going to leave their locale and move to a town called Wake Wood. All is not normal in Wake Wood, mostly due to creepy people and pagan rituals. Even with this, the locals are nice enough to offer Patrick and Louise the chance to bring their daughter back to life for three days. Unfortunately, the girl doesn’t come back completely normal, which is easy enough to guess.
The best parts of this film are in the beginning when the viewers are attached to the main characters. We feel for the mom and dad and wonder what we would do if we were told we could bring our child back from the dead to properly say goodbye. The atmosphere in the beginning is also wonderful. Celtic rituals and pagan practices are abundant, which creates a very mythical Irish picture. Sadly, by the end of the film all of the rituals and emotions take a backseat to the gore that Alice dishes out. Alice, in essence, is really not that creepy from a visual perspective. Kids usually come off as scary in films, but Alice just doesn’t seem to fit the role of a creepy killer. Of course it's possible the director wanted the viewer to still view Alice as the lovable girl she was in the beginning, but that just made me less scared of her when she turned to the dark side.
Alice does have unique ways of killing. She has supernatural abilities and actually used a Mortal Kombat fatality at one point where she rips out someone’s heart. This is all grand and wonderful, but what happened to the depth of the characters and the mythical atmosphere generated earlier in the movie? Early on, the main characters imply that they may have lied about something in order to have the ritual take place, since there were rules in order for the process to happen. As a viewer, my mind was roaming for ideas of what lies they made in order to have Alice brought back from the dead. The truth of this lie is disappointing and was a pretty huge let down. This just further adds to the downhill slope of this movie. Some people may disagree with this movie being categorized as a zombie film, but according to me, if someone is brought back from the dead, they are a zombie. If that zombie has supernatural powers, just like Alice, I would still consider them a zombie with these powers. Categorizing it in this way does add a little splash of uniqueness to the zombie genre, and in actuality this movie’s concept is pretty unique. We have all heard of people being brought back from the dead, but never have we heard of a time limit.
Overall, I wanted to feel for the parents and their loss, but I found myself blaming them for their stupidity. They were told the rules and warned of the consequences, but they went against them, so they deserve what they get. The ending of this film attempts to be a little too shocking and really just adds confusion to the whole concept. I don’t want to give away the ending, but it’s not the kind of ending that warrants watching the whole film. Horror island receives a little girl-turned-killer, but is she ready for the pros yet? My vote is no and it looks like Alice is a little too amateur for the other walking dead inhabiting horror.
If you liked Wake Wood, you might also like Psychomania and Wilderness.