Anyone who is at least a bit familiar with 1980s slasher films and vanilla 1990s anthology television series will know what to expect in She Came from the Woods; which is exactly the point. Coursing with vibes reminiscent of Friday the 13th meeting Are You Afraid of the Dark, a gaggle of counselors cleaning up after the last day of summer at Camp Briarbrook decide to share a local legend around the campfire. Carson and Erik Bloomquist pull numerous nostalgia-drenched elements from those bygone eras in campy terror, delivering an earnest project hallmarked by fantastic production design and strong performances; though it is ultimately a lukewarm horror short.
So as we “meet the meat” taking a break while wrapping up the last details of camp following the departure of the kids, they exchange a local legend of Ester, psychotic nurse who once worked at the camp. Very much like Bloody Mary, the story concludes with a ritual (shedding blood and saying Ester’s name aloud) which sets seemingly supernatural gears in motion. As these gears grind away, our camp counselors learn the true error of their ways.
“…a gaggle of counselors at Camp Briarbrook decides to share a local legend around the campfire.”
In such a fleeting 12-minute runtime, it is thoroughly impressive that the Bloomquists effectively shoved in so many horror tropes (think Scream condensed, set against the backdrop of Sleepaway Camp). However, this film plays less like a self-contained short, and more like an abridged version of a larger story; or that this short is designed to be a pilot/pitch to create a feature project. This impression is mainly due to its ominous tension throughout the opening arc concluding too abruptly and lackadaisically. Though this sudden shift could have also been a nod to the campiness of some 80s horror, it feels out of place and middles the effectiveness of the ending.
Acting like a scrapbook of the genre, She Came from the Woods is a brief sentimental stroll through traditional horror motifs; it’s nothing new, yet it is certainly still a fun ride.
She Came From the Woodsscreened at the 2018 Newport Beach Film Festival.
"…thoroughly impressive that the Bloomquists effectively shoved in so many horror tropes..."