Wake Wood is a 2011 Irish supernatural horror film. A UK and Irish co-production by Hammer Film Productions, Wake Wood is directed by Ireland's David Keating. It stars Timothy Spall, Eva Birthistle, Ella Connolly and Aidan Gillen.
The movie starts on little Alice's birthday. Her adoring parents, Patrick and Louise, shower her with love and gifts. When Alice tries to feed her lunch to the vicious dog in their backyard, it mauls and kills her.
Within a few months, the couple moves from the city to a small town called Wake Wood, where Louise runs a pharmacy and Patrick becomes the town's resident vet. The couple have relationship trouble, with Patrick coping with the death of their only child by returning to his work, and Louise trying to leave Patrick. He finally agrees to let Louise go. At the home of the town leader, Arthur, Louise witnesses a strange and bloody pagan ritual but refuses to say anything to Patrick. Strange things happen in town, including parades of people in black and a queer woman, Mary. Louise discovers that Mary and Mary's niece are not as they appear and something unnatural is going on. Soon after, a farmer is killed in a brutal accident. Horrified, Louise and Patrick plan to leave, but Arthur convinces them to stay by explaining that he has a ritual that brings back the dead – but only for three days. The couple agree to remain, excited to see their only child again.
The ritual requires a piece of the person to be resurrected, and the couple goes grave-robbing to obtain a piece of the girl and retrieve her birthday necklace. They also need a corpse; the farmer's wife, Peggy, agrees to let them use the dead farmer's body. They attend the ritual – a gruesome affair – and are given their little girl. They are told she manifests as completely alive but they must not allow her to leave town. It becomes clear that the dead age normally, and the couple rejoice in their reunited family, though Peggy is distressed by the girl. That night, the townsfolk, led by Peggy and Arthur, say they must take Alice back early because there is something wrong with her. Patrick and Louise refuse, insisting that they get their full three days and the town residents grumpily agree.
However, it becomes clear that there is really something wrong with Alice. She moves unnaturally, has premonitions and several animals are found brutalized with evidence that it was done by her. The family attempts to leave town, but it results in Alice's death in the same grisly way she originally died. She is healed upon re-entry into the city limits. Mary arrives on the third day with a special choker to contain the girl when it is time for her to go. Louise is horrified and the couple plans to hide their daughter from the townspeople. Louise discovers she is pregnant and Alice goes on a killing spree, murdering the people most intent on taking her back.
Patrick and Louise frantically try to find the girl and discover the murdered townsfolk. It is discovered that Alice had been dead longer than a year. They find her among a gruesome pile of dead crows. Along with Mary, they bring the girl back to the woods. Alice murders Mary and attacks her parents but her mother tricks her into leaving the city limits and Alice dies again. Louise helps to put her body back to rest, but Alice drags her mother down with her – the consequence of an improper resurrection.
The last scenes are of Patrick resurrecting a heavily pregnant Louise.
- Aidan Gillen as Patrick Daley
- Eva Birthistle as Louise Daley
- Timothy Spall as Arthur
- Ella Connolly as Alice Daley
- Ruth McCabe as Peggy O'Shea
- Amelia Crowley as Mary Brogan
- Brian Gleeson as Martin O'Shea
- Dan Gordon as Mick O'Shea
- Aoife Meagher as Deirdre
- Tommy McArdle as Tommy
- John McArdle as Ben
Wake Wood was filmed in County Donegal, Ireland, and in Österlen, Scania, Sweden. The selection of Sweden as a shooting location was because of David Keating's love for the Swedish horror film Frostbite. Keating wished to work with the people behind the film, and he hired Chris Maris (the cinematographer on Frostbite) to shoot Wake Wood and Magnus Paulsson (Frostbite's producer) as co-producer. It was the first theatrical release from genre production company Hammer Films in thirty years. The film premiered at the 2009 Lund International Fantastic Film Festival in Sweden. It was released theatrically in UK cinemas on 25 March 2011 and it was released three days later on DVD in the UK on 28 March.
The film received a limited domestic release opening at 4 cinemas grossing £1,251 for the weekend of 25–27 March 2011.
Peter Bradshaw reviewed the film for The Guardian and gives it 4 stars out of five, suggesting the film is "in the tradition of Don't Look Now, The Wicker Man and the communal nightmares of Ira Levin; 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."
Tony Vilgotsky of Russian horror webzine Darker gave this movie 4,5 stars out of 5. He mentioned that, by his opinion, Wake Wood includes some references to Lucio Fulci's film City of the Living Dead.
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- Bradshaw, Peter (24 March 2011). "Wake Wood – review". The Guardian.
- Vilgotsky, Tony (15 July 2011). "Hammer Studios Present". Darker.