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Film Review: Wake Wood (2009)

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

​There’s more than a touch of Don’t Look Now in David Keating’s 2011 horror flick Wake Wood. From pint sized mackintosh-wearing assassins to a sex scene that is pure Christie and Sutherland this is the type of film that has a definite feel of déjà vu about it.

It all starts promisingly enough. Veterinary surgeon Patrick (Aiden Gillen) and pharmacist wife Louise (Eva Birthistle) are newly arrived in the quaint Irish village of Wake Wood. It’s a fresh start for the couple. For, like Christie and Sutherland before them, they too have recently lost a young child.

Not long ago daughter Alice had the misfortune to meet a very hungry Alsatian (what’s wrong with pit bulls?). Still recovering from their bereavement the couple find themselves in a village where Arthur (Timothy Spall) - a sort of Alesteir Crowley in wellies – presides over spooky late night shenanigans.

According to Spall he has the power to resurrect little Alice – but only for three days. Why just three days? Spall isn’t quite sure about that. But he is sure about one vital requirement: the death must have taken place within the last 12 months or else the magic won’t work. Why 12 months? Rules dear viewer – the rules of the occult, er…apparently.

That’s not the only rule: the child is not allowed to leave the boundaries of Wake Wood. Should she do so the spell is broken, Damn! If these parents had any ideas of running off with their daughter then forget it. Not happening. Three days means three days.

News of the couple’s subsequent (and unexplained) infertility is a less than subtle sign-post that suggests, come what may, another pregnancy must surely be on its way.

Anyway amid a plethora of dead animals and blood spattered farmyards, the ritual is set to go ahead. But first a fresh corpse is needed for the ‘delivery’ (Another rule) Fortunately a farmer has just been crushed graphically to death by a cow. What a stroke of luck! So we have a corpse…

And lo, little Alice is reborn. Patrick and Louise are delighted. The family are reunited. But…

It’s just for three days, remember?

After a couple of days of family bliss – rescuing dogs (Alice has forgotten all about her Alsatian-inspired trauma) and playing in the spooky woods, inexplicably, little Alice starts to show a decidedly un-angelic side.

Armed with an assortment of sharp farmyard instruments, the little cherub starts going around Wake Wood bludgeoning the poor old devil worshipping residents to death. Think Friday the 13th comes to Sligo. Oh no! Something has gone wrong, very wrong. But what?

Meanwhile Spall has come back to reclaim Alice – the three days being up. Heaven only knows how he intends to ‘return’ the little girl to the other side…

By which time Alice has turned into a real slasher, killing anyone who stands in her way. And if she hadn’t stepped outside the boundaries of Wake Wood who knows how long her killing spree would have lasted?

In the best tradition of horror movies there’s a final twist as mum stands over the freshly buried corpse of her once more deceased daughter. Seasoned horror buffs will not need two guesses as to what happens next.

And so it finally comes to an end. Poor Patrick. He’s lost a daughter and a wife. But… Once bitten twice shy? Not the residents of this unassuming little village…