Tag Archives: Georgina Campbell

A Walk in the Woods

Lovely, Dark, and Deep

by Hope Madden

What is the draw of the deep woods? Ticks? High likelihood of injury with haphazard chances of rescue? Cocaine bears?

Even the obvious reasons to steer clear of the woods can’t deter a lot of people. Writer/director Teresa Sutherland’s Lovely, Dark, and Deep links two risks that have haunted writers and creators throughout existence. Some people go crazy in the woods, and many get lost in there and never come out.

“And into the forest I must go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” John Muir said that. The “father of the National Parks” may not have predicted Sutherland’s translation.

Sutherland drops new ranger Lennon (Georgina Campbell, Barbarian) in the National Park back country, where she will spend the season mainly alone in her ranger hut. Does she know that Ranger Varney (Soren Hellerup) disappeared last season?

Likely it wouldn’t dissuade Lennon, who has a past to reconcile and some podcasts on missing people to listen to.

Campbell’s performance shifts as Lennon’s determination makes way for absolute confusion and terror. What begins as single-minded pursuit shows itself to be desperation in disguise. Willfulness gives way to horror as Lennon’s investigation turns up wooded weirdness and wickedness she did not predict.

Wide shots and drone work keep Lennon dwarfed by an increasingly claustrophobic forest, though Campbell never lets the character feel overmatched by nature. Not nature. But a disorienting woods as deep as these (it’s actually Portugal) can easily conceal a lot that is far from natural.

Sutherland’s film is a bit of a slow burn, but once it hits its stride, she throws an unsettling assortment of hellish visions at you. You don’t have to have a natural (and really healthy, I think) fear of the woods to know it’s time to get the F out of Jellystone.

Scare BnB

Barbarian

by Hope Madden and George Wolf

When you see as many movies as we do – especially horror flicks – taking us places we did not see coming is much appreciated.

Barbarian certainly does that, mashing horror, dark comedy and social commentary to wild and mostly satisfying ends.

Tess (TV vet Georgina Campbell) is in Detroit for a job interview. She books an Airbnb in an unsavory part of town, only to find out Kieth (Bill Skarsgård) booked the same place on HomeAway. What to do?

They talk, flirt a little, and Tess agrees to stay in the bedroom while Keith takes the couch. They’ll sort it out in the morning.

In his feature debut, writer/director Zach Cregger (The Whitest Kids You Know) lulls us with a competent but familiar hook. What’s really going on? Can Keith be trusted? Creeger throws in some creepy camera angles, terrific lighting maneuvers and jump scare fake-outs to build tension.

Then Tess makes her way down to the basement. Yikes.

But even after Tess’s startling discoveries, we’re still feeling like we have a grip on what’s ahead.

And then Cregger takes us to Hollywood, where producer AJ Gilbride (Justin Long) is sacked from his latest project due to allegations of sexual misconduct.

Um…what?

AJ’s story suddenly crosses paths with a tale set in the same house in 1982, this one starring Richard Brake. While that’s often great news for viewers, it is rarely good news for other characters.

What could start to feel disjointed and episodic instead congeals into a bizarre and brutal minefield of surprises. There are times when these surprises hang together with unrealistic decision-making, but Cregger’s sly script overcomes most of its conveniences and missteps.

Not every moment works. Certain choices feel ridiculous and breaks of levity keep the film from being as disturbing as maybe it should be, given the content. But most of that is forgivable, mainly because of the surprises Cregger has for us, and the nimble way he brings them out of hiding.