New this week On Demand, DVD, and digital download from High Octane Pictures!


Directed by Marcel Walz
Written by Mario von Czapiewski
Starring Tyler Gallant, Elissa Dowling, Sarah French, Felissa Rose, Tiffani Fest, Brandon Rhea, Kwame Head
Find out more about this film here!

Bleh! I’m having trouble finding positive things to say about ROOTWOOD. The concept is tired, but promising, I guess. I mean, “send a bunch of kids into the woods to film a documentary” is a tried and true setup as long as you bring new ideas to the mix. Sadly ROOTWOOD fails to do that.

A pair of urban legend podcasters Jessica (Indie Scream Queen Elissa Dowling) and William (Tyler Grant) are hired by a production company (headed by SLEEPAWAY CAMP’s Felissa Rose) to film a documentary in a section of woods outside of Hollywood that is said to be haunted by a spirit who sold his soul to the devil long ago. Soon they find themselves lost and getting picked off one by one by unseen forces.

I like good movies and I like movies so bad they are good. What I don’t like are uninspired movies. Movies being made just to be made. Movies that seem to exist simply to fill a space. Movies that are bereft of passion, love of the genre and trade, energy, and ideas. While Elissa Dowling always gives a little extra in her performances, even she seems put-out to be on camera. Lines are delivered in whispers and sludge out of the mouths of the actors. The canned music is overly extreme and mismatched to the level of danger and threat in the story, making it almost feel comedic. There are no real moments of terror. We are supposed to quiver in fear at the sight of a monster hand creeping out of the shadows and around corners. A noose is supposed to send sharts out of our collective buttholes. None of these intended scares and thrills land with the desired effect.

At the 30 minute mark of this one, I was looking at how much time was left. At times, the film tries to orchestrate the first person POV effect, but for the most part, it is only done during times the characters are mumbling to one another. First person POV is supposed to add urgency and tension to the shots. It’s supposed to place the viewer in the shoes of the person behind the camera. This film even misses that understanding of filmmaking on that rudimentary level.

ROOTWOOD even dares to try to have an ironic ending, commenting on how terrifying the experience was. If half the effort went into the film as it was the last minute of the film, there might have been hope for it. As is, the energy is wasted. Avoid ROOTWOOD. No one involved really made the effort, so why should you.