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Before inflicting HOUSE OF THE DEAD onto the world, in what the trade papers promise to be the first of several awful cinematic adaptations of video games, Uwe Boll made this cheap German-financed shot-in-British Columbia (though set in the U.S.) opus. The box makes it sound like another take on THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME, though only a few minutes of the movie towards the end could be considered so. The movie's more of a psychological thriller of sorts, trying hard to bring things together for a neat twist at the end, though the twist is one that's been used in several major Hollywood movies released in the past few years. It's a pretty dull and cheap affair for the most part, with a lot of unanswered questions such as that nude sequence near the end. Muldoon gives another sleepwalking performance that makes you wonder why he's a star even in the direct-to-video market. The movie's also not helped by Boll's *frequent* penchant for flashforwards (which naturally spoil some things to come), flashbacks (a number of which are not only repeated, but way too many times), and awful use of blurry slow-motion in these segments *plus* the "normal" parts of the movie! At least Clint Howard brings some welcome comic relief in his few brief scenes.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I picked this out because it was a thriller set in the woods. Then i
found out it was by Uwe Boll. I had seen 'HofD' sometime previous.
'Blackwoods' to me was a lot of style but with substance that fell
short. technically it was pretty good. though, after the umpteenth
flash forward and flash back... it got to be a chore. they were
flogging a dead horse at that point.
i found myself thinking about michael pare- i hadn't seen anything since 'streets of fire'. he was very solid here. muldoon, on the other hand, has been slumming since 'starship troopers'. i always enjoy clint howard, though.
It's any wonder Boll went on to 'house of the dead' after this. There is some promise here. but ultimately the ending caused a shrug, and made me think of 'sixth sense'.
A while back I read an interview with Uwe Boll saying how his early
non-video-game-adaptation movies are better and people should watch
them as well before judging him. I've done both, and I have to say Uwe
Boll makes no bad calls any other straight-to-video filmmaker wouldn't
either, he's just much more high-profile thanks to his video-game
franchise licenses. He isn't a bad director, but he's not one of the
best either. Blackwoods is a case in point. It's an entertaining, solid
movie, but it has problems, namely confusing writing and an end that
comes suddenly and explains everything in five minutes flat.
Blackwoods constantly refers via flashback to a horrible car crash that the main character has before the start of the movie, where a woman is accidentally killed. It constantly drops hints that 'sumthin' ain't right' with the main guy Matt, but doesn't really have any exposition till the closing minutes. While this keeps the pace brisk, it does mean that you feel a little left out of proceedings.
Also, the cast lay their 'you ain't from around here is ya boy' routine on a little thick. If Clint Howard had acted any stranger I would have started to expect Jeremy Beadle to hop out from behind a TV set during the motel segment. Given that Boll actually does a good job of developing an uneasy atmosphere for the movie, it seems unfortunate that he also got his actors to really turn up the 'weird dudes' knob. It kind of cheapens the effective direction a little.
Still, despite it being quite confusing at times, and having some fairly odd, unnecessarily nuanced acting (not bad, just really strange), Blackwoods is an entertaining film. The storyline is intriguing, and the way it's fed to you is quite gripping. Unlike Boll's House of the Dead, his other film I've seen, which is non-stop stupidity (though I hasten to add, that's good stupid not bad stupid), Blackwoods is quite intelligent and well put together. It's worth a shot, don't expect a miracle, but give it a try, you could enjoy it a lot.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Forget the plot and characters, Blackwoods is a movie about trendy,
flashy, cinematic fads that lacks any coherent rhyme or reason behind
its execution. The film is directed by Uwe Boll, a man who has seen
many great effects created in great films by great directors, and he is
eager to recreate those sensations in his own movie. Too eager. Way too
eager. Early in the film, Matt glances out the window and sees his
girlfriend, Dawn, chatting with some guy on the street, and Uwe Boll
quick cuts to 3 different shots of Matt (think Hitchcock's the Birds)
and we hear sinister music. Why? Because Boll can.
Actually, the first glimpse at Matt is through pulsating blackness where he paces back and forth and fiddles with a knife as though having just committed murder or something, which interestingly, the film immediately abandons as he "wakes up." Driving down the road, Matt reaches for the radio, and Boll unleashes a series of flashcuts showing snow, woods, blood, bodies, and a shattered windshield as if the radio somehow play into Matt's enigmatic past. Later in the film, a waitress gives Matt a dirty look, and she gets an evil cue on the soundtrack. Later still, Matt and his girlfriend of three weeks get pulled over and the cop's vehicle also gets its own evil music. When the cop doesn't appear after two seconds, Matt gets out, and Dawn dives into the backseat to hide. Matt gets close to the cop's SUV, and calls out, "Hello?" And boo! The Sheriff is right behind him! Cue the sinister music again! All within the opening twenty minutes.
I get the feeling that when Uwe Boll wants to drop subtle hints that someone should run up to 7/11 for cigarettes he writes a note on poster board, hires a guy to dress up as a giant cigarette and deliver a singing telegram, paints an ad on all the billboards within 20 miles, does a chalk drawing on the driveway, phones it in to a live radio broadcast, and has an airplane write a message in the clouds. And you can just sense the movie struggling with all its might to slip in innuendos, "hinting" at the "surprise" ending, all the while trying to mislead at the same time. It has the effectiveness of, "Oh my God! Look over there! Is that the good year blimp?! Oh wait! Where did the handkerchief go? It disappeared! Magic!"
The story surrounds the young couple as they journey to a remote location in the woods to introduce Matt to Dawn's parents because in the movies nothing bad ever happens in isolated locations where no one can hear you scream. After an overly suspicious setup that works overtime isolating Dawn from the rest of the world (save for one lonely diner scene) and let's not forget the constant bombardment of flashbacks showing snowy woods, blood, a body, a shattered windshield, hospitals Dawn mysteriously disappears. Around this time, an axe murderer shows up to wreck havoc in their hotel room, and that guy vanishes as if it were all in Matt's twisted mind. Oh, did I mention the guy who "asked Dawn for directions" previously (you know, the one who inspired the Birds cuts), turns up at their hotel before the axe murderer appeared?
After the hotel clerk and local Sheriff write Matt off as a nutcase, Matt vows to prove his story and goes to the house of Dawn's parents right up the street from the hotel. And peeking through a window, he discovers Dawn talking with the homicidal axe maniac, or as she calls him "brother." In the room, we can see the entire family, and apparently Dawn got all the good looks and everyone else got umm well, never mind.
Around this time, the flashbacks have become progressively longer, progressively more revealing, and they still appear at an overabundant frequency. Matt apparently ran over a pedestrian and a tree. The tree survived; the pedestrian did not. Presently, the Blackwoods hillbillies are putting Matt on trial for the murder of Molly, the poor pedestrian whose face remains forever hidden in the flashbacks. And as his grim end approaches, the Sheriff vows to get to the bottom of it all because something doesn't quite click and "that kid seemed strangely familiar." And it's a race for the Sheriff to unlock the mystery of the Blackwoods and catch up with the audience who figured it out 20 minutes ago.
Unlike the film, I'll not explicitly spell out the ending. I'll assume anyone reading this has the intellect and capacity to figure it out for themselves based on the events I've described. I will, however, say that once Blackwoods reveals its dark secret, it doesn't shut up about it using extensive explicit imagery and not one but two monologues. "Yeah, dude, when you were looking at the Good Year Blimp, which wasn't really there (it was a 'distraction'), I hid the handkerchief in my pocket! See? Here it is! Wait, let me show you in slow motion."
Interestingly, the film's technical merits ironically builds a strong case that its creators, like the main character, are delusional drunks. Take for example a shot early on where the Sheriff turns to talk to a waitress, and his nose falls outside the frame. Or perhaps when Mat talks to Dawn (hiding in the backseat) after they get pulled over, and the camera wobbles as if the cameraman had held that heavy thing too long and can't quite keep it steady anymore. Or the choppy slow motion that looks more like the DVD player is screwing up than style. Or the ah, crap I'm at IMDb's word limit.
This German-financed, low-budget thriller is undermined by a listless script and annoying slickness in the editing. The lackluster performances don't help and when all is said and done, it's really just a public-interest morality play. A flash in the pan for late-night cable viewers.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have to say that I am in the minority here. I see such low ratings overall and I do not understand. This movie was unique with acceptable acting performances. This had comeuppance all over it. Basically a film about a guy that let his guilt get the best of him. Approximately a decade earlier Matt was responsible for the death of an adolescent girl when he was drunk driving. The film consists of Matt going to the country with his girlfriend. But was this his girlfriend or was this someone more sinister? This was a film filled with many unexpected twists. Yes, there were many flashbacks and I do believe in this film, the flashbacks were of utmost importance.Many films flashbacks are unnecessary and detract. I shall proceed. This is the type of movie that is a special taste like sushi... Either you get it or you do not. I got this movie and I have seen this film a few times ,because I thought it was that good . I always caught more little hints and pieces of the puzzle each time I watched this film. The storyline comes together , in a most unusual way. Sometimes the worst trials that we are involved are those that exist inside our own minds. For an unusual,refreshing psychological thriller; This is right up there.
As the credits rolled at the beginning of the film, so did my stomach!
The camera-work was odd to say the least--with spinning camera shots
that made me feel a bit queasy. The net effect also was to make the
film look really cheaply made. Unfortunately, the same insane desire to
do something "arty" kept cropping up--again and again. The picture
would often slow or blur as you hear LOUD music blaring at you or you
see weird montages that make your brain ache and other times the camera
jerked about and shook--making you wonder if the film makers were
insane or having seizures! The overall effect is very sloppy.
The story idea isn't bad. A guy who is responsible for a drunk driving death is lured into the woods where he is attacked and tormented by the family of his victim. Unfortunately, however, the film is undone by crudeness and foul language--and you really don't care much about the folks as a result. In fact, EVERYONE throws out the f-bomb right and left so much that it just looked and sounded dumb. This really was handled artlessly--the writer/director Boll didn't do much to help the viewer connect with these folks. Could it be that Boll's command of the English language and culture is so poor that he thinks every American talks this way?! Another problem is that the film bounces around a lot--from the past to the present again and again. It's all pretty confusing and how this was handled was pretty confusing...and, once again, dumb.
Overall, a decent story concept that is handled so f-ing poorly that you wonder how they got f-ing funding for the f-ing project--as well as future f-ing projects. Sloppy and f-ing amateurish. And by the way, I DON'T talk this way...the film does.
A final comment--this film is currently listed on IMDb's Bottom 100 list--the 100 lowest rated films with at least 1500 votes. While I hated this film and found it offensive, I am sure that it didn't quite deserve this distinction. Perhaps if there was a Bottom 250 list, it should be included.
On a road-trip to meet her family, a couple get sidetracked by the
residents of a small-town community who are seemingly trying to kill
him, but as he spends more time in the area, he begins to see the real
reason behind their actions and tries to stop them before he comes to
There's a lot to dislike here as this was a really flawed entry. One of the biggest is that it's built around one of the most insipid and utterly moronic twists in the genre (it's not the worst, but man is it up there) that basically makes the entire film completely worthless, and when combined with an irritating belief that every single action scene must be shot in slow-motion combined with a camera angle that is so blurred and out-of-focus it's still impossible to tell what's going on. There's almost no gore or even kills happening on-screen and that it's more of a mystery than anything makes it nearly impossible to get into this one and really care since nothing happens. It's got his usual flare for gorgeous scenery, but that's about it here beyond the final chase through the woods which has a rather nice amount of action to it, but it's still too little too late to save this.
Rated R: Graphic Language, Graphic Violence and Brief Nudity
I can take all kinds of low budget bad movies, because going in expectations are low. If the movie delivers nothing, I am not disappointed because nothing was expected. On the other hand I despise low budget bad movies that manipulate the audience in unfair ways. They make you believe one thing and then cruelly switch what was depicted as reality to something that leaves you feeling totally cheated. "Blackwoods" is such a movie. The DVD case perpetuates the trick by giving no hint of the nonsense to come. In addition to the trickery, the endless flashbacks in "Blair Witch" type motion are annoying. I despise people that lie, so a movie that is less than honest is totally unacceptable. - MERK
Matt is haunted by the death of a girl from a car accident he caused
Matt was drunk and as he reached for the car radio, he struck the girl as she crossed the road.
The guilt that he feels has altered his sense of reality, making Matt's life a mystery full of shadows and phantoms.
Now, years later Matt goes away for weekend with his new girlfriend Dawn.
After a wild session of lovemaking, Dawn goes for a walk.
While she is away a strange man with an ax comes into the motel room and attacks Matt.
After that incident Matt goes into the woods, looking for Dawn.
There he encounters Dawn's family who tie him down and put him on trail for the murder of the girl years before.
They find him guilty and he is sent back into the forest to be hunted down by the family.
The deeper Matt runs into the forest the farther his mind is lost to the Blackwoods.
Opie's brother is in this. That says it all.
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