Crone Wood is a 2016 found-footage style Irish horror movie starring Elva Trill (Line of Duty) and Ed Murphy (Vikings), coming to DVD and VOD on February 1st.
Danny and Hailey only met yesterday, but already seem to be getting on extremely well. Following a swim in the sea and some food in a cafe, they decide to do something spontaneous and head off together on a camping trip. In November, and with neither of them having any camping experience. And their location of choice? Crone Wood, an infamous spot with a history of witches and folklore! They’ve already been documenting their time together so far using Danny’s video camera and decide to continue by filming their trip, with each one taking their turn to be in charge of the camera. A visit to the nearest outdoor adventure shop sees them stocking up on a tent and outdoor clothing before heading off by car to the outskirts of Crone Wood.
The hike up into the woods gives us a chance to spend some more time with Danny and Hailey, getting to know them as they explore their surroundings and grow closer as a couple. They occasionally fall out, particularly when it comes to trying to erect the tent, but they have good chemistry, thanks to the strong believable performances from both leads.
With the tent finally up and darkness blanketing the woods, things begin to go wrong for Danny and Hailey. A noise outside the tent, and the handy addition of the night-vision setting on their camera, leads to the discovery that they are being watched by a masked figure. Giving chase, they lose the stranger and find themselves at some abandoned ruins that they had already investigated earlier in the day. Making yet another questionable decision, they decide that now would be the perfect time to start stripping off in preparation for some intimacy – not quite the ideal location or circumstances that would get me feeling particularly horny, but each to their own I guess! Heading back to the tent they discover that not only is their tent missing, but there is more than one masked person out in the woods for them to contend with. Lost, and with no phone, they must try and find their way out of the woods and evade their masked pursuers.
Crone Wood has been described as The Blair Witch Project meets The Wicker Man and I’d say this is a fairly accurate description. The first half certainly covers the familiar found-footage ground well, complete with the creepy lost in the woods feel of Blair Witch. It’s when we get into Wicker Man territory that things, unfortunately, begin to fall apart. The quality of acting when new characters are introduced takes a serious nosedive, and none of what happens is particularly scary, disturbing or unsettling in the way it is meant to be. Lots of slowly walking around, chanting silly rituals, it’s like a low-budget, found-footage Midsommar. And I hated Midsommar.
Filmed over 5 days, Crone Wood was written and directed by Mark Sheridan, who started off making short films in 2006. As his first feature-length film, there are certainly some brave ideas on display, that with a little more budget and attention would have delivered a much stronger result. It’s thanks to some strong performances from its main characters, especially Elva Trill, who I hadn’t seen in anything prior to this, that Crone Wood is as enjoyable as it is.
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