Redwood (2017)

Redwood is a gem of a film about feral vampires, written and directed by Tom Paton. We watched it on Amazon Prime.

I’ve decided to take a (very short!) break from watching horror movies, so I can write about some that are overdue. I first saw Redwood last year and should’ve reviewed it sooner. It’s a very moody horror that is (in my opinion) strangely underrated.

In fact, given what I now know about the production, it seems like a mind-boggling achievement. Tom Paton had a six week opportunity to write and shoot “something with vampires” and came up with this.  I wasn’t aware of the quick turnaround when I saw it, and you don’t have to make allowances for the fast production. It stands very well on its own merits.

With the trivia out of the way, let’s get down to business. Josh (Mike Beckingham) and Beth (Tatjana Inez Nardone) are hiking through the prehistoric gloom of a national park.  The trip is tinged with sadness (because Josh has Leukaemia) and forboding (because the dark woods are expertly shot).  Buffy star Nicholas Brendon has a small but effective role as a dour park ranger, who dials up the dread when he warns the hikers to stay on the trail. After they ignore him, they meet a pack of feral vampires, and the film shifts from slow-burn horror to high stake action.

The second half of the film is when it really shines, but I have nothing bad to say about the first. The sadness and forboding are expertly layered in the long build-up. Nicholas Brendon is used to great effect, and his slightly blank, almost traumatised demeanour really turns the screw. Some viewers might not warm to Josh, or feel engaged by his relationship with Beth, but they’ll probably “get it” by the time the credits roll, because the setup is key to the emotional payoff.

When the vampires appear, your enjoyment will depend, in part, on how much they scare you. Certainly, they scared the crap out of me. Like the creatures in The Descent, they’re humanoid rather than human, and their hunting calls are terrifying. Although Redwood is essentially a “creature feature”, there are clear hints of a deeper mythology, and I’d be excited if news reached me of a planned sequel.

So, that’s my (much delayed!) review of Redwood. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am surprised it doesn’t get more buzz. Give it a shot and see if you feel the same!

About the author

My name is Ellis. When I’m not reviewing movies, I write short stories about ghosts. If you like getting scared in the woods, you might enjoy Deep Summer Magic, which is also available as a free audiobook.

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