A review of Irish Horror film said to be Blair Witch meets Wicker Man. Spoiler. Its Not.
Ever since I first watched The Blair Witch Project in 1999 - found footage films - particularly with a supernatural or folkloric twist - have been my amongst my favourite films to watch. So when Crone Wood appeared in my review pile I decided to wrap a blanket around me on a windy night and give it a watch. Crone Wood is being released on DVD on February 8th 2021.
Danny (Ed Murphy) has apparently met Hailey (Elva Trill) just hours before the two find themselves heading off to the depths of the Irish countryside - camera in hand - in search of the witches that put the crone into Crone Wood. It seems the two are not alone, and it seems a man is following them. They run to a nearby village to get help but then events take a turn for the weird.
I think you can already tell I am not a fan. Warning. There be spoilers ahead.
Crone Wood starts with promise with Murphy and Trill delivering believable performances. Hailey is is the flirtatious risk taker - the adventure is clearly her idea. Whilst Danny is slightly shy but isn't going to pass up on an opportunity to spend a weekend with a beautiful girl. The chemistry between the two leads is very natural and the first act was so well performed that you do fall under the 'found footage' spell.
Whilst the woods and ruined houses do deliver the creep factor, Crone Wood fails to produce the scares that I have come to expect from this type of film. A man appears to be following them but only because the commentary tells us. We are denied the tension and scenes to drive our imagination wild. After surviving a cold night in Ireland without any tent - and without event - the two head to a nearby village in search of a phone. There are plenty of houses but they head into the deserted house with an open door. Danny discovers something creepy in the bathroom and then they are trapped when one of the residents arrives home. They eventually escape and find help.
Here the story takes another turn. They are invited into the home of Mother May Eye (Geraldine McAlinden) where she and her adopted daughters give off those creepy cult vibes. It is clear all is not what it seems when they tease Hailey for wanting non-alcoholic wine - calling her a 'virgin'.
Next thing Danny is slumped on the floor and becomes the focus for a poorly acted Midsommar style fertility ritual where he is r*ped -apparently under the influence of drugs. Before long Danny is being led into the woods surrounded by the women and a rather talented Ceilidh band.
He is given a choice. Marry Hailey and Join them or Meet his own fate in the woods.
Spoiler. He makes a run for it. In the dark. Not the best decision as the final scenes show.
Given this was meant to be in the style of found footage it is rather frustrating that the Crone Wood switches perspective. Therefore we lose some of the atmosphere instantly. As the film progresses it loses any sense of found footage and the end scenes are disappointing. I feel this could have been better served by either remaining loyal to the found footage genre or focussing on the Cult aspects from an audience perspective rather than conflating the two. The story and character arcs showed promise, but ultimately lacked the horror I craved.