Girl in Woods

Grace Walker (Juliet Reeves) hasn't had the greatest life so far. She still has nightmares about having seen her father (Lee Perkins) shoot himself in the head when she was seven, and no wonder. The medicine she's taking doesn't seem to be much help with that. Luckily, now she has her boyfriend Jim (Jeremy London) who doesn't mind that she wakes up screaming every night, and sometimes even during the day when she nods off while riding in the car.

Worse, Jim wants to propose. I know, that's normally a good thing, but the problem is that he decides to propose by taking her up to an isolated cabin somewhere in the Smoky Mountains. It's a gorgeous spot if you like the woods (which I do, and apparently Jim also does), but Grace is less thrilled with the outdoors. When they go out for a hike she clings to her phone, trying over and over to get a signal that isn't there.

Then, in one horrifying instant, Grace is left alone and lost. Either she's like me and has zero sense of direction or she was so busy staring at her phone that she has no idea of where they were walking, because she's unable to retrace their steps. The cabin is only a few hours' walk away, but in which direction? With a few supplies and a lot of grim determination, she sets out to find her way back.

But it seems her medicine was helping more than I realized because now that she's without it she quickly starts to fall apart under the stress. She thinks more and more about her dad, her mysterious mother (Charisma Carpenter, The Expendables) and the demon she was sure was in her closet when she was a little girl, even though her dad never believed her. Then there's her deceased grandfather (John Still, Foyle's War), who shows up for a chat and kindly invites her to come back with him. But Grace isn't ready to go, even though she now has yet another problem to face: there's a monster in the woods with her.

At first it seems like the film is going to rely on confusion as to whether Grace is awake or dreaming, but it's more insidious than that. As her memories continue to resurface, piecing the tragedies of her childhood together, you slowly realize just how unreliable those memories are. She takes talking to herself to a new level, and the dead visit her with increasing frequency. And just when you're sure you know what's going to happen, what has to happen, the movie takes a sharp, shocking turn.

I'll give it four and a half out of five. In her panic, Grace is often an excellent example of how not to survive in the woods, but Juliet Reeves' performance is exactly right, by turns vulnerable, distant, and terrifying. Between her lost loved ones and her own alter egos, she's hardly by herself, but she's also more alone than she ever imagined she could be. Grace's physical and mental deterioration is fascinating and horrible, and all the more nightmarish for happening against the beauty of the forest. By the end you won't know who the worst demons really are.

Image: 
Grace and friends. Three's a crowd.

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Nice review!

Nice review!

Good review. Made me

Good review. Made me interested without giving away the ending :)

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