Release Date: 5th February 2018
Running Time: 82 minutes
Independent horror fans will savour Sean Breathnach’s feature length debut as a group of friends face some mysterious happenings after a sinkhole opens up near their isolated holiday retreat.
Filmed on location in Ireland, Beyond the Woods sees seven friends gather at a holiday cottage. Undaunted, if a little nauseated, by the smell emanating from a nearby sinkhole they set about enjoying the weekend. As drink and drugs flow, the group of thirty -somethings settle in for a weekend without mobile signal and internet, and the sinkhole remains an unvisited, though pervasive threat. Soon though it is affecting the groups behaviour – an ill-advised threesome threatens friendships and one of the group goes missing next morning. Before long the slowly diminishing group are facing a far greater threat than the smell.
This budget supernatural horror takes a while to find its feet but after a slow and patient opening Breathnach is soon deftly ramping up the tension as increasingly bizarre happenings add to the feeling of unease established at the outset. Here it’s worth commenting on the simple plot devices used to establish the tension, for example mud and ash trails are found outside the bedrooms repeatedly, and mirrors are used several times to offer to hint at supernatural happenings. It’s easy for budget horror to stray into clichés, and while Breathnach uses well established horror devices such as “stalker” camera angles through leaves and sudden power cuts, they’re not over used. Although there are gory moments it’s the unseen that creates the terror here, and the film is better for it.
This is a compact and well crafted horror film that deftly ratchets up the tension to breaking point, recommended viewing for horror fans everywhere.