Written by: Daniel Hadley
Directed by: Clay Moffatt
Cast: Jonathan Booker, Adam Berardi, Michael Lopez
Silver woods is a bad movie and I’m saying that right off the bat because I feel it’s important to stress that movies should not get a free pass because they are very low budget. All too often I read glowing reviews of lower budget indie movies only to find they are far less than average, and I personally don’t believe it’s fair to the filmmakers to coddle them. Being aware or your shortcomings is how you grow past them and improve your craft, and stating that all of a movies bad points can be excused because of its low budget and passion isn’t helping anyone, I know I am just a lowly reviewer and my words are not profound, but in my eyes constructive criticism is always the way forward.
Silver Woods follows the plot of many horror movies that have come before it where a group of friends get together for a weekend retreat to an isolated cabin in the woods. To any horror fan the set-up is familiar, but some of the best movies in the genre have started the same way. So our group of friends looking for something to pass the time decide to go on a hike but they are warned by the local park ranger to not enter Silver Woods. He never divulges any specifics, but warns them to keep their distance. Two members of the group overcome with curiosity can’t help themselves, and check it out anyway. If I were to go on any further I would get into spoilers so I’ll stop there. It’s a clichéd plot but that has never been a problem in horror movies. For example you can’t have a ghost movie without the clichéd haunted house or cursed object. These plot points are over used because they work.
Silver Woods was produced by Overnight Pictures and after checking out some of their other work via their Facebook and YouTube pages, it became apparent they are a very small but passionate group of filmmaker’s and they appear to love what they do. So more power to them. With that in mind they suffer from the usual pitfalls such groups tend to face, like low quality editing, poor audio and stilted, wooden performances. Some of the line delivery was passable but for the most part it was very apparent I was watching actors not characters. The camerawork also suffers from what I assume was a lack of a tripod as most of the shots are very shaky or uneven. With all of that being said the technical side of the movie wasn’t really where its troubles lay.
Silver Woods lacks any kind of atmosphere, and in horror atmosphere is king. The movie totally lacked any tension because there was no sense of dread or foreboding. Most of the movie is shot in daylight with the ground covered in snow, so many of the scenes are very brightly lit. And as much of the movie is a group of friends palling around, it just did not feel like a horror movie, there is an extended scene where all of the characters are just walking through the woods throwing banter back and forth and it felt as though I was watching a home movie.
The film is also very short, clocking in at only one hour and eight minutes. It leaves very little room to really establish any of the characters. Most normal movies are around ninety minutes and the missing twenty-two minutes could have been used to establish more of the horror elements Silver Woods is severely lacking. For instance the entire main plot revealed in a huge exposition dump ten minutes before the climax. A story is supposed to progress naturally, expository dialogue is the laziest way to forward your plot. If the characters in the movie had made a few minor discoveries along the way and pieced the mystery together slowly over the course of the film it would have improved the overall story greatly, and this could have also increased the movies length and built up some tension.
The antagonist who is also revealed around ten minutes before the end of the film also makes no sense, as his goals completely contradict his action earlier in the movie. I feel as if Clay Moffatt had a basic idea of the plot but did not know how to end it, so he threw in a little twist without realising it made no sense (a minor spoiler here so skip so skip the rest of the paragraph if you don’t want anything spoiled). The park rangers ultimate goal was to get everyone to head into the woods, so why when the entire group were on their way there, did he stop them and warn them away? It’s completely nonsensical.
It may feel as though I am being harsh on this film, as it is a very low budget indie production, but honesty is key here. A bad movie will always be a bad movie regardless of its budget.