Beyond the Woods

{Panic Fest} Movie Review Moving ‘Beyond the Woods’

The first film we took in at Panic Fest took the longest to set in. The creep, the fear, the dread are all staples of the horror genre and many films introduce you to those things quickly. Beyond the Woods trusts itself to take its time developing those ideas. As insecure as the characters are the director is quite the opposite. Allowing his vision time to develop.

The Movie’s synopsis is pretty short and to the point. Psychological thriller which follows Detective Reeves’ investigation after Laura Bennett’s death and the disappearance of her brother Jack. The suspect at hand is the mysterious Andrew Bennett. It’s really a movie about Bennett’s own struggle with right and wrong and the choices he has made. Without an absolutely standout performance from Steven Roberts the movie would drag. Most of the action takes place in shed and really features just two actors. Roberts struggle and complexity is the single most interesting and important motivation in the movie and it is entirely believable.

Director Brayden DeMorest-Purdy sets out to make a very small feature that plays on its feeling of intimacy. It is DeMorest-Purdy’s first feature and as first features go Beyond The Woods points to great things to come.

Courtesy of The Nerdy Kids Productions

As the movie grows in urgency the film moves in and out of a different set of realities that makes every narrator entirely unreliable. There is no sugar coating the middle of this film is sharp in its brutality. Jack played expertly by Jeff Evans-Todd suffers in such a genuine and authentic fashion when the movie gives us relief, rather real or make believe, we want resolution for everyone.

The movie is not perfect. It is about 20 minutes too long and the slow pacing is surely going to turn a few people off. I am way more interesting in watching Bennett struggle with his own empathy and morality than I am watching his interrogation play out. When the movie leans into the relationship between Jack and Andrew is really shines. If pacing is a problem than the way DeMorest-Purdy captures human relationships is the solution. The end of the film is purposefully ambiguous which is a strong and brave choice. It is one of the first film’s I took a look at for Panic Fest and its been one that has stuck with me the longest. I can’t wait to see what comes next for cast and crew a like.