I have to say, this movie was filmed in a vain of studio quality Found Footage. With the story being told from the point of view of the main character’s Flashlight (which is passed around to different cast members) not a camera. As I have stated in previous reviews I am not he biggest fan of found footage, but the idea of seeing the film from the POV of an inanimate object was intriguing. Though it may sound not intriguing to some, I ask please give it a chance, cause for this film in particular it actually works.
The movie starts off with Ethan, recording a video diary entry. He tells us he recently tried to commit suicide and his from Middle School made him and her matching key chains. He plans to ask her to an upcoming dance. We jump to Robin (the friend with the matching key chain) who is meeting her friends in Covington Woods for flashlight games. The game they are playing is of course called Nightlight.
The make their way to a stump. In the meantime they discuss how the only thing that can make the guys of the film do anything they don’t want is vagina. Also they discuss that you can see dead bodies at the bottom of the crest, one of which could Ethan’s, who apparently has committed suicide by this point in time. They go on to discuss how it was not cool enough of a way to go out and if you kill yourself like that you deserve to lose your life. I for one have very little tact, and even I was a tad put off how (even though yes it is a movie) they blatant disregard for suicide. It is during this time you can tell Robin is definitely not one of the “cool kids”.
Chris tells them all about the evil spirts that live in the woods, and if you die in Covington Woods you become part of the woods. At this point he also tells them about a church built in the 30s that was built to ward off the evil of the woods. It is at this point of the film (after they have been in the woods probably a few hours) he gives them the rules:
- Turn off you flashlight as often as possible
- Don’t write your name in the forest, it’s a request to die
- And last but not least NEVER ENTER THE CHURCH.
They continue to play random games, including truth or dare and a few others I wasn’t familiar with. They blindfold Robin and go hide, she counts to 100 and takes off the blindfold. When she does she has to find them by yelling Nightlight. Of course at no time do they ever turn off the flashlight like it was discussed in the rules of the woods.
As they play Nightlight things begin to get freaky, noises in the woods, tree branches falling, lights not from the group can be seen just you know the worst imaginable things that could happen in a haunted forest. One point in time the flashlight even seems to be pushed off its resting place by an unseen force. The longer they play (and keep the flashlight one) the more they hear noises and footsteps. Of course Ben (the main crush) is the first one to break rule number 2 and carves his name into a tree. Not so after things turn from bad to worse. The flashlight begins to go in and out and he finds the dead bodies of animals.It is not long after the first member of the group meets an untimely end. Ben disappearing leads to the first cracks in the group. The death scene mentioned above though not much can be seen of it, was actually pretty well done. Some good gore splatter. It is also at this point in time the film takes a turn for the supernatural and the idea of demonic possession is introduced. Also objects disappearing from one place where they were left and appearing in entirely different place. Of course also at this point they break the 3rd rule and make a beeline for the church. At this point Nia reveals they had originally planned to play a prank on Robin by buying a bunch of fake blood. So when Robin tells her about everything she saw, she just chalks it up to everyone else keeping up with the planned prank. I am going jump a bit, but Robin finds a printed out Wiki page and at this point we find out the Church was actually built as a “Safe place as a last stop for those considering suicide”. At this point I will stop giving away too much of the story.
The movie takes a few wicked twist and turns from that point on. Like most “Found Footage/POV” films the camera work is shaky at times. But you can tell this film was made with a bigger budget than most FF films. Even when the camera becomes shaky, it wasn’t overly shaky like most FF films are. Now being that the entire film was shot in the woods at night most of the scenes are a tad bit dark. This makes for the movie to be watched either at night or a room with very little light. I had to draw my blinds and turn off the light. The story was well written and I didn’t feel like there was many plot holes. The film as a whole deliveries, there are a few of those pop out scares that were made famous in 80s slashers and some gore too. Though this film is sold as found footage I don’t think it quite qualifies for me. The final resolution of the film left me wanting more. I would totally be open to a return to Covington Woods and deeper and darker thrill ride down the rabbit hole. It really sells as a psychological thriller and has an all-around creepy vibe. Also I must mention that the final scene is the only one not shot in POV. After the resolution of the film, we get one more glimpse into the mind of Ethan.
Something I have never done before, I wanted to touch on the Special Features of the DVD. They have a few deleted scenes and an alternate ending. The first deleted scene tilted 1930s 16mm was entirely in black and white and seems to show the church itself has been there much longer then the main cast thought. It also shows a group who had committed suicide. I for one would have like to see it left as a preamble to the film. The next deleted scene is titled Nia’s Dance Story it actually an alternative scene from the film. It is take place after Nia admits to planning a prank on Robin. Nia tells Robin a story about Ben who she is currently crushing on. Basically Ben stood her up for the dance last year. I can see why this scene was taken out, it has no real effect on the story except building a small amount of Nia after making her out to be a bitch. The
Alternate ending title and description I decided to exempt because it would ruin the ending of the film.
reviewed by Shawn