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SHE CAME FROM THE WOODS (2022)
Directed by Erik Bloomquist.
Written by Erik Bloomquist, Carson Bloomquist.
Starring Cara Cuono, Clare Foley, Spencer List, Michael Park, William Sadler, Adam Weppler, Tyler Elliot Burke, Giselle Tores, Dan Leahy, Ehad Berisha, Sienna Hubert-Ross, Erik Bloomquist, Emily Keefe, Declan Foley, Coulter Ibanez, Tess Santarsiero, Cody Boccia, Cory Asinofsky
As summer comes to an end at Camp Briarbrook, a group of counselors gather together to celebrate the end of their responsibilities. But as they begin a debaucherous night of drinking, drugging, and sexing, they decide to perform a ritual in honor of a local legend of an evil nurse who used to gather children in the surrounding woods and perform twisted medical experiments on them. Turns out the ritual actually works, and the evil nurse rises from the grave to enact her revenge on the counselors.
SHE CAME FROM THE WOODS is kind of a tonal mess, but one of those tonal messes that you used to get in the eighties where there’s a lot of humor and heart, but there is also a lot of adult themes going on, along with all of the gore and violence. It sort of reminds me of MEATBALLS with a heavy dose of THE BURNING…which is basically MEATBALLS with a slasher tossed into it in the first place. The humor is solid. These are actors with great comic timing, especially the overly belligerent Adam Weppler who as Dylan, fights with everyone for no apparent reason. Well there is a reason and it gives the character some surprising depth, but still seeing him be a total asshole is really fun. The rest of the campers do a great job of being wholesome and caught up in camp drama of who is trying to sleep with who and who’s sheepish in letting the other know they are interested in them. While it isn’t as hilarious as WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, there is that type of acidic wit going on in SHE CAME FROM THE WOODS which I found to be surprisingly effective.
But apart from that, there is a strong heart to this film as it focuses on a family who has been working hard to keep the camp open and running for the children. MADMEN’s Cara Cuono is great as the lead counselor and mother to her two grown sons who help her run the camp. And it is great seeing William Sadler as the owner and patriarch of the family. Sadler is an actor who always gives his all and does so here as he genuinely cares for the camp and the kids. This is a film that seems to have warm feelings about summer camp and the filmmaking brothers Erik Bloomquist and Carson Bloomquist communicate those meaningful memories well.
But aside from all of these tender moments and chuckles SHE CAME FROM THE WOODS also delivers in some very chilling scenes. There’s a very cool scene where the kids disappear from the school bus as they leave the camp and a few others as the campers encounter the evil nurse and other horrors in the woods. While it is kind of goofy, seeing jars of blood hanging from trees in the middle of the forest is an uncanny sight to see. But still, who takes the time to fill all of those jars with blood and hang them from tree branches. If you think about it too much, it just begins to feel goofy. That said, there are some very gory moments as the evil nurse ghost tears through the counselors and one very gnarly burn victim that will make your toes curl and then, surprisingly, laugh quite a bit. It’s a great moment.
Sadly, SHE CAME FROM THE WOODS kind of falls apart in the last act as too many unnecessary connections are made between the family running the camp and the threat. The film falls into conventional scenes seen many times before as if all the effort was made in the first half of the film. That said, the evil nurse is one creepy ass villain, there’s a lot of impressive gore, and I like the adult humor that reminded me of those tonally wonky days of old. SHE CAME FROM THE WOODS is not perfect, but looking back at those retro-camping/slasher/teen sex comedies, neither were they.