Wednesday, February 08, 2023

She Came from the Woods, Starring William Sadler

"Good" people are usually bad in horror, like “Goodey” Brown in “Young Goodman Brown.” Nurse Agatha Good is even worse. She is dead, but not dead enough, especially after the foolish teen counselors at Camp Briarbrook raise her malevolent spirit during their season-ending party. That kind of “Bloody Mary” business never ends well. It ends really badly in Erik Bloomquist’s She Came from the Woods, which opens this Friday.

Years ago, Heather McAlister was a camper at her father Gilbert’s camp, when the camp nurse, Agatha Good, did some rather terrible things to the kids, including Heather. Old Man McAlister thought he had fixed Nurse Good permanently, but the legend of Agatha and her possession of the kids persisted, handed down from camper to camper. Every year, Heather’s slacker son Peter tries to invoke Good during their annual closing night blowout. This time around, Peter has them sweeten the deal with a little needle stick—wounds for Nurse Good to tend to—which she does in her horrifying way.

The basic idea of
Came from the Woods is not entirely unprecedented, but the execution is definitely energetic. The press copy might also be over-selling it as a “horror comedy,” but a lot of the dialogue, especially that of the rowdy counselors, has a snappy Kevin Williamson-esque edge. In fact, Dylan, the borderline delinquent counselor is spectacularly awful and loathsome, like the horror film equivalent of a Seinfeld character.

Bloomquist and his co-screenwriter brother Carson Bloomquist start by somewhat zigging instead of zagging by making their camp-bound horror yarn supernatural in nature, rather than focused on a slasher. They continue adding small but clever wrinkles to the tale of undead witchery and zombie-like possession, which keeps the film fresh.

Of course, the Bloomquists have a not-so secret weapon in William Sadler, who is terrific as grizzled old Grandpa McAlister. Sadler is not as recognized as a horror legend as he should be, but he has an impressive record, elevating films like
Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, VFW, The Grudge, and Living Among Us, among others. In Woods, he shows off his tough guy attitude, as well as his Middle American family man sides.

Despite its escalating body count,
Woods celebrates the resiliency of families, in its own lethal, chaotic fashion. Most importantly, it is fun, in a dark, wouldn’t-want-to-be-there kind of way. Easily recommended for horror fans, She Came from the Woods opens Friday (2/10) at the Regal E-Walk.