Updated: Dec 3, 2019
Director: Marcel Walz
Writer: Mario von Czapiewski
Starring: Tyler Gallant, Elissa Dowling, Sarah French & Felissa Rose.
There’s a legend about a woodsman who, to protect his family and the area in which he lived made a deal with The Devil. In return for the woodsman’s soul, Old Scratch will preserve the forest.
There seem to be a lot of times in films where people have sold their souls in exchange for something. Is it really that easy to accomplish? I’m sure if Satan started to use advertising he’d be a massive success in this day and age:
Just one payment of your immortal soul and you could find your loans wiped and your mortgage paid. Just apply now to Satanic Soul-lutions and all your troubles can be cured.
Unlucky in love or just want a decent night’s sleep?
Satan has got you covered with one easy soul payment.
And it needn’t stop there, simply sign up a friend or offer up the soul of your first-born and get a free enemy smiting. With smitings ranging from making them spontaneously combust to having their insides filled with goat faeces, we have a plan to suit everyone.
Keep it simple, keep it Satan.
Anyhow, back to the movie and podcasters William (Tyler Gallant) and Jessica (Elissa Dowling) have received an offer from Hollywood producer Laura Bennot (horror legend Felissa Rose) to take part in a documentary about a legend that is currently circulating Hollywood.
That legend is The Curse of the Wooden Devil and involves the tale of our soul-selling woodsman and how he was also hanged and burned by nearby townsfolk after people started to disappear. The odd thing is, people are still disappearing.
Laura is generously providing Will and Jess with all the equipment they may need such as a trailer, equipment and a camera. Good thing too as Will has been filming stuff with the old method of phone on a stick and certainly doesn’t look like a competent filmmaker. Not only does he pan the damn thing so quickly that anyone viewing would end up with an eye-full of blurry motion-sickness, but the first time we see him filming he’s holding his phone vertically.
Vertically! To shoot video! The sick bastard!
Needing an extra person to help them out, Will and Jess get their friend Erin involved in the documentary as she has taken photography classes and is also willing to work for free.
Erin is also attracted to Will so she other reasons for joining the expedition.
The group head out to the location at Rootwood Forest and once they arrive, despite all the equipment they have, including a drone, Jess pulls out her phone and starts filming vertically as well.
What the fuck is wrong with these people?
They may as well just spend their free time kicking puppies or crapping in someone’s fish-tank because that shit’s on par with being unable to rotate your phone by 90°.
OK, maybe I’m over-reacting just a tad, but still, fuck these guys.
The following day, they head out to investigate the specified locations and after a while, they make their first unusual discovery when they find what appears to be an old metal tower with names daubed all over it, some of the names seemingly written in fresh, still wet blood. Names that match some of those of people that disappeared in the area.
The odd thing is, the group seem more disturbed by their next discovery of a piece of noose than they were over fresh blood, which seemed a little odd to me.
Find names written in blood? Not a problem, let me stick my hand in it a bit.
Find a piece of rope? Fuck this shit, we’re heading back to the camper.
Surely a good addition to the documentary would involve calling the police, letting them see the blood and trying and get involved in the investigation?
It was these character choices that spoiled things a little for me.
They weren't necessarily idiotic, but they were dumb.
There’s all that setting up at the start with them getting the equipment that I mentioned, only for them not to use it. So it’s a real shame that they seem to be only filming things with these little headset cameras they have mounted over their ears. I’d be breaking the drone out at every opportunity if that was me and yet they don’t use it for the entirety of the film. It was weird and if there is an opposite to the principle of Chekov’s Gun, this was it.
For supposed documentary filmmakers, they spend a lot of time not really filming anything.
Other character moments ruined it too.
There were things like a character getting scared after apparently seeing something outside that terrified them only to then decide that the best course of action is to pack their bags, head outside, in the dark, on their own, where they saw whatever it was that scared them , because they are done with this spooky shit.
Only to have them still wearing the head camera.
At least they had Felissa Rose in the movie. I’ve been a fan ever since Sleepaway camp and fortunately this time, she’s not standing around with her penis out. Well, not her penis obviously, it belonged to someone else. Which possibly sounds worse. Look, if you’ve seen Sleepaway Camp then you know what I’m getting at.
She had a few nice moments and I liked when she got to be a little crazed and maniacal.
The film is a combination of found-footage, being seen via the headcams and phones that the group used, and actual film.
Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.
The hand-held nature of some of the filmed segments, left them feeling a little like found-footage and there were times when I found myself thinking, who’s filming this…oh wait, it’s not a found footage segment.
It’s easy to draw comparisons to this and the likes of The Blair Witch Project due to the found footage in the woods element and also because I really didn’t like the end of Blair Witch.
Blair Witch built things up only to have the protagonists get scared by seeing sticks hanging in trees, which I’m pretty sure is a sticks natural habitat, and then for the film to end with a dude standing in the naughty corner.
Root Wood does something similar that left me equally disappointed.
I was into it at the start, but the more the film progressed, the more it started to lose me. The acting seemed to feel more wooden as time moved on, with the characters just not really having that relaxed feel to how they were with one another. There wasn’t that sense of friendship and I found myself slipping out of the film the more it progressed.
Like I said, disappointing.
Especially when some of the shots of whatever was out there in the woods, were done quite well, often just on the edge of camera and there was that sense of something out there, stalking them. But it just didn’t maintain that and lost me completely by the end.
The end also felt out of place.
It hadn’t been built up and I don’t want to spoil anything, but there was a location change that didn’t fit.
If anyone remembers the movie Snuff, with it’s bolted on ending from another film, that’s how Root Wood felt.
It didn’t end there either because, after that ending, there was another scene tacked on the end of that which was actually far better in the fact that it would have made more sense. So it was a shame that there were two endings.
Still, if you liked Blair Witch, then you might get a kick out of this but for me, it just didn’t work and Root Wood felt more like morning wood in that although it seemed to have a solid girthy start, after a short while it wilted down into something unattractively floppy.
Still, all this is just my opinion so if you want to give Rootwood a go, you can find it on amazon:
and on iTunes: