The 1980’s spawned a slew of movies centered around teens at camp being stalked by an unstoppable killing force. Beginning with the most well-known of the subgenre, Friday the 13th, this tried and true formula has been entertaining us horror fans for decades. One of my favorites to be honest. It’s a trope that doesn’t need much variation. In my opinion, it’s simply perfect. Throughout the years there have been a few titles that have attempted to capture the same energy of its predecessor but could never quite get there. In steps Erik Bloomquist with She Came from the Woods. This nostalgia-soaked horror/comedy tries to capture that vibe and run with it.
We open in 1987 at Camp Briarbrook. Owner Gilbert McCalister (William Sadler) is closing up shop, getting ready to hand the reins over to his daughter Heather (Cara Buono) and her two sons, Shawn (Tyler Elliot Burke) and Peter (Spencer List). It’s the last day of camp and all the kids and counselors are saying their goodbyes. We’re introduced to the typical cast of characters that are in every one of these flicks. Jocks, drama kids, the virgin…you know the gang. As the campers depart on the bus home the hormone filled teen counselors are readying their end of summer party that happens to include an annual playful little “ritual” meant to summon the spirit of an evil witch that stalks the woods surrounding the camp. According to legend, 40 years ago, nurse Agatha would experiment on the campers with strange bloodletting experiments. She was subsequently killed and buried in the woods. To change things up this year Peter suggests they do their own little blood ritual to draw her out. It’s just a legend, right? What could be the harm? Little did they know though that was all that was needed to unleash her vengeful spirit on the unsuspecting folks of good old Camp Briarbrook.
The premise is pretty generic but effective. Most of these types of movies are the same save a few minor differences but that’s the point really. We aren’t looking for an award-winning film, we just want a psychotic killer, some unique kills and a little humor sprinkled in amongst the blood. She Came From the Woods for the most part accomplishes that. The comedy wasn’t as pronounced as say a ‘Shaun of the Dead’ but the characters’ quirks and personalities were enough to elicit a chuckle here and there. As for the horror side of things, I never truly felt any dread but to be honest I wasn’t expecting that from this. The films it pays homage to never really built that type of suspense either. They were merely a vehicle for creative mayhem. It’s all about the kills baby! From the first brutal onscreen kill, Bloomquist attempts to set the tone that this is going to be a wild ride but I don’t feel like it ever really got there. Things got kind of generic from that point. There is however, a scene in this flick that stands out to me. That being a busload of possessed children chasing down a counselor in a cornfield at night. Creepy. I maintain to this day that possessed children freak me the hell out and probably always will.
This flick is no masterpiece of horror but it’s not terrible either. It delivers just enough to keep it from being bland. That being said, if you turn your critical brain off for a bit it’s enough of a unique spin on an old trope to keep you entertained for movie night. As of today, you can find this one in a theater near you.