Set in contemporary rural ireland, a young couple Adam and Claire move into a disused mill house in the centre of an ancient forest, where Adam (A british conservationist)has been tasked with selecting trees to be felled by a logging company.
During his innitial survey (as a viewer we later discover it’s his third visit) Adam selects trees for felling and stumbles upon an abandoned house where he enters with his infant son strapped to his back. Once inside he happens upon a deer which has been murdered and propped by a wall. Upon closer inspection Adam notices black fungus growths eminating from the skull of the deer and proceeds to take a sample of it. He brings it home and we witness that this fungus seems quite violent in nature.
At this point is where I began to have problems with the movie. Would you bring your infant son near a dead animal which could have died any number of ways and expose him to potential danger? Indeed having seen this fungus dribble down from the ceiling into the babies cot they do nothing about it. This set the scene for any number of idiotic decisions by the parents to randomly leave their child when a hint of danger was called for in the script.
To say that the main protagonists where characters is being generous. As the setup goes you have to guess that Adam is there working for a logging company it is only briefly hinted at and then confirmed in the very last scene of the movie as the credits roll over top of it. It’s difficult to keep your interest when the world of the story isn’t exactly explained clearly.
I can understand the need for mystery and having an ambigious beginning can work but when characters are as wafer thin as these I felt you needed to clarify the world so at least we care enough to watch.
Which is its biggest problem. I just didn’t care. The characters don’t have to be likeable to be watcheable they just have to have ‘character’. Adam is perhaps the worst of the pair, given the most screen time and guilty of being pig headed to the detriment of his own child. That setup would have been interesting if it indeed had have been setup as his character from the get go. As it stands it just comes across as stupidity and totally throws you out of the movie.
When we join them they are in a battle with the strange neighbour who wishes to warn them about the dangers lurking in the forest telling them to ‘stay away’. If the danger was so great why didn’t he say more? Why does he just need to speak to Adam, he could have easily given his warning to Claire. Indeed later on in the movie he presents her with a very elaborate book on the forest including its dangers (Designed very similarily to the book out of the evil dead). And this is after they have been attacked. Surely you would just up sticks and leave. Especially as there isn’t any compelling case given for them to stay.
Very little makes sense in the world of the movie. Light at one point frightens the creatures away when it is used again they don’t fear it, then at the end daylight kills them. Consistency of its own rules is a problem. The other is the fact that we aren’t exactly told what the creatures are. I’m guessing they are a type of demonic faery when Adam mentions that his own son is a ‘changling’ but that isn’t entirely clear.
The creatures design themselves are quite good. I really liked the fact that most of the effects involving them where practical which made them tangeable and real. The forest location is great and the lighting is suitiably errie. The special effects are quite good too. There are a number of effective set pieces with the creatures so that’s a plus. So the only real flaw is the script.
In the end I just didn’t care. I felt myself bored with the movie as there wasn’t enough there to invest fully in it. Forgiving the familiarity of certain shots borrowed from other better movies, I just couldn’t forgive the motivations of the characters and that alone hurt my enjoyment of it.