WAKE WOOD (2011) Reviews and overview

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‘Beware those you love the most’

Wake Wood is a 2011 British-Irish horror film by Hammer Film Productions and Vertigo Films directed by Ireland’s David Keating. It stars Timothy Spall, Eva Birthistle, Dan Gordon and Aidan Gillen.


Patrick and Louise lose their daughter Alice, on her 10th birthday, after a deranged dog mauls her. After one year, they move to Wake Wood, an isolated village.

The village leader Arthur, tells them about a ritual to bring Alice back, but for three days. They agree, however, the ritual requires one of Alice’s fingers, someone’s corpse, and female blood. Patrick and Louise tell Peggy, an elderly neighbour, that they want to bring Alice back, but want to use her recently deceased husband’s remains. She tells them they can. They also dig up her grave and pull of one of her fingers. Louise is horrified at this.

The ritual starts. The corpse is removed of the spinal cord and severed in the abdomen area. Alice’s finger is put in it’s mouth. After chanting Alice’s name, the corpse is covered in marsh and burned. The head is cut off and Alice emerges, covered in blood and naked.

Louise and Patrick take her home and give her a shower. She says she had such a strange dream, people were chanting her name. On the first day, after playing joyfully with Patrick and Louise, she goes to sit by a tree and takes notice of a dead raven…


Wake Wood is a quietly creepy film, avoiding flashy images or ridiculous special effects (everything here looks very real, including the often graphic gore).

While the story repeats some elements of Don’t Look Now, Pet Sematary and The Wicker Man, it is never overly derivative, instead delivering a spookily pagan tale that has enough plot twists – alongside some obvious moments, it has to be said – to keep the viewer entertained as it steadily builds to a satisfying climax.

David Flint, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:

“…it’s a low-budget film that entertainingly takes its audience to the brink of pure absurdity. But it also riffs nastily and effectively on ideas of taboo, on our perennial yearning for ceremony and ritual to alleviate the sadness of life, and on Larkin’s idea that what’s truly scary is not dying but being dead.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian


Wake Wood‘s most disturbing elements are also its most distinctive ones. Patrick’s job as a vet and the film’s rural setting form the basis for a rich seam of imagery revolving around birth and pregnancy – and the horror of watching him slice into a cow’s flesh to perform a caesarean is more emotionally and viscerally affecting than any of Wake Wood‘s more generic lunges for the jugular.” Film 4


“The Hammer brand carries with it many expectations and also, I maintain, due to its pedigree, certain responsibilities. Happily, Wake Wood manages to combine a requisite sense of continuity with a sense of exploration, as it develops upon some horror staples in a muted, yet still complex way.” Brutal As Hell


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