Mark Sheridans Irish horror has elements that work tremendously considering how low it budget was. Leads Elva Trill and Ed Murphy are particularly strong and importantly relatable. Sadly Crone Wood just fades away by trying to do too much in the short runtime it has.
A young couple embark on a camping adventure in the countryside. They choose Crone Wood, an infamous spot with a history of witches and folklore. But as the darkness settles, strange noises start to be heard and mysterious lights are spotted between the trees. What starts out as a curiosity, quickly descends into a nightmare as they discover that the horrors of Crone Wood go far beyond local legend. Thrown into a world of cults and ritualistic murder, they quickly discover that pagan Ireland is alive and well.
For some reason it appears that when an inclusion of a second camera comes into the film that the self-shooting appears to go out the window. Edits begin to seep into the film of recording characters from multiple angles. The night vision element comes and goes and it does take you out of the film. As the beginning of Crone Wood has the shakiest of shaky cam, for it to suddenly settle to be so static and fluid is just too noticeable.
This isn’t the only issue with Crone Wood. As soon as we expand the cast, the film begins to wither away from what made it work so well. The majority of the supporting cast are simply not as good as our two leads and their increased presence and slowly reduction of screen time of either of the leads seriously hurts the film. Which is such a shame as the chemistry between the two is what carries the movie. Sure the jumps and the horror is effective enough, though it is fairly lightweight, but the tension is taken right out.
This doesn’t even have us delve into some of the narrative issues with Crone Wood. Why are these two trusting each other to go into a wood on their first date? Especially to go camping overnight. Why are they buying what they need on the way? Characters should not be this easy, or frustrating. What happened to just hooking up in the others apartment? It certainly doesn’t seem like there will be a date after this, especially when Danny begins to record them in the tent.
Somehow our two actors Elva Trill and Ed Murphy make this poor script work and their dynamic really carries what works in the film as the mystery of who is in the woods with them grows, our concern for them does too. The opening portion is the strongest in the film as we get to learn a little bit about them, the awkwardness of the both of them. It works so well. This makes the later half undeniably frustrating as an audience.
The final third of the film almost feels like a different movie as the reveal isn’t all too well presented and more was needed to make that reveal hit like a hammer to the head. Instead the twist just raises an eyebrow and shrug. There are ways the film should have went down and it simply chose the wrong one. Such a shame for a low budget film that was able to invigorate a well-worn sub-genre. It throws it away to be grander than what it could handle.
This is not to say the idea presented in that final third is poor. It is good, it just seemed like it needed a stronger supporting cast to carry it and to be a bit more visceral. Rushed due to run time these are sequences that in truth deserve a full feature length film. There needed to be more to flesh it out rather than have it be a tired twist moment.
Okay, so the film isn’t great, but for a low budget horror filmed in five days? There needs to be some credit to Mark Sheridan and his team for what they accomplished here. There is merely the fact that they burned two great ideas and merged it into two films. Either half would work and be a decent flick if fully expanded. But, together it just doesn’t work as well it needs to. A shame as there are elements that work well.
Danse Macabre releases Crone Wood on DVD and VOD on Feb 1st.
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