Deep in the Woods (2000) ***1/2
D: Lionel Delplanque
C: Vincent Lecoeur, Clement Sibony, Clotilde Courau, Francois Berleand, Maud Buquet, Alexia Stresi, Denis Lavant, Thibault Truffert
Plot Synopsis: A group of artists, composed of the young actors Wilfried and Matthieu and the actresses Sophie, Mathilde and the dumb Jeanne, is hired by a millionaire, Axel de Fersen, to present a performance of Little Red Riding Hood in his isolated castle to celebrate the birthday of his grandson. Meanwhile, the police advises that a serial killer is raping and killing young women in the woods around that area. During the night, the group feels trapped and threatened in the castle, guessing who is and where might be the killer.
REVIEW: In Deep in the Woods, a group of young twenty somethings are paid to put on a performance of Little Red Riding Hood, at a birthday party, where they are then dispatched of by a killer. The film's principal location is a castle that exudes a sense of grandeur. It's a place filled with macabre decorative touches that feel like they would be right at home in an Alfred Hitchcock film.
As for the characters, they don't feel so much like actual people, but merely as decorative touches in this castle setting. They exist solely to have sex, to get killed, to argue with one another and then to try and escape. They are lovingly photographed, however, especially Vincent Lecoeur. And when it comes to the film's erotic sequences, this is after all a slasher and the characters are bound to screw at some point, the film showcases the bodies of its cast quite titillatingly.
When it comes to the business of slashing, these scenes are quite effectively staged with some interesting camera work. The film also utilizes the color red, both in terms of blood and costuming, better then just about any other horror film since 1973's Don't Look Now or the 1976 version of Carrie. The killer, himself (or herself), dons the wolf costume used in The Little Red Riding Hood play. The costume, itself, not only exudes a sense of menace, but also looks quite striking on camera.
In between all of this, there is some absurd dialogue, characters who make decisions that make absolutely no sense and even a few gratuitous touches such as Vincent Lecoeur's character being both the object of admiration for a character who is supposed to be a strict lesbian, but an elderly man who is wheelchair bound. I'm telling you, Vincent Lecoeur could give Zac Efron a run for the money in the man pretty department.
In terms of direction, sets, costumes, camera work, etc. - the film is nothing short of brilliant. I was spellbound just looking at the film. This is the type of film, that horror master Dario Argento used to make in his prime and in terms of direction, it could even rival Argento's best film, the horror classic, Suspiria. Still, there is going to be viewers who want this pesky thing known as a plot or character development, to which I say: Forget it. Don't even go there.
Sure, there's a plot and a rather flimsy one at that, but that isn't what the film is trying to achieve. This is a purely visceral experience, in that it's all about style. It's 90 minutes of some of the finest work you'll see from any director or any art department, in any horror film, from the 2000-2009 era. You won't marvel at Deep in the Woods from a story standpoint, but from a visual perspective, you will. It's truly a sight to behold and then some. [R] 90 mins.
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