Deep in the Wood (2015) Review

Atmospheric thriller is a haunting exercise in what is true and not.

Deep in the Wood is a 2015 (North American release 2017) Italian language thriller about a young boy who returns after being missing for five years, drawing concerns that he is not who he seems.

Perhaps the single greatest fear of any parent is the worry that they might lose their child, no matter it be through sickness or accident, a loss few can recover from. With a missing child, that weight surely worsens as days, weeks, and years can ruin a life in waiting and wondering. A number of excellent films have used this trauma as premise in delivering some truly heartbreaking experiences. With Deep in the Wood (Italian: In fondo al bosco), now available on VOD, that fear is put to the test in a shattering tale of parenthood under the guise of a psychological thriller.

It starts with the annual Krampus festival, a yearly celebration of demons and spirits that sees 4-year-old Tommi (Alessandro Corabi) run off and go missing into the nearby woods. It devastates his father Manuel Conci (Fillipo Nigro) and Linda Weiss (Camilla Filippi), causing a police investigation and terrible accusations that tear the couple apart, which all happens within minutes of screen time. It then flash forwards five years when a 9-year-old-boy (Teo Achille Caprio) is discovered in a construction site and found to be a DNA match for Tommi. Distressed and silent, he is nonetheless much like they remember even if he seems to have no memory of them at all, though it’s not long after that Linda begins to have some doubts as Tommi takes on a violent streak, convinced the boy is here to kill her. But why?

Directed and co-written by Stefano Lodovichi, Deep in the Wood is a deliberately slow-paced kettle cooker that quietly lets its cat out of the bag in troubling measure. We are meant to mistrust Tommi from the start as hints pile on, from newspaper clippings and reports of children disappearing over the years at various similar festivals to the way the family dog reacts in Tommi’s presence. Lodovichi is subtle in these reveals, understanding that we have expectations already and so never doles them out with anything but great purpose, making it clear early on that this is a game of whom do we trust?

Deep in the Woods
Deep in the Woods, 2015 © One More Pictures

The answers to that question are not as easy as the premise might make you believe and we become embroiled in a battle of perceptions as Lodovichi shifts us from Manuel to Linda to Tommi throughout, testing our sympathies for each. Why is Tommi like he is? What is the reason for why he acts as he does? We have to look at his influence to understand what the questions mean, for his small presence has great impact on the players in the story and while it’s easy to see this as simply another devil child movie, there is much more happening in his peripheral that hints to more. Much more, and there are still secrets to come.

With the beautiful Dolomites looming like entrapping walls in the background, Deep in the Wood is a caustic creepy thriller, moody and dark that doesn’t pander to the tropes of the genre, instead crafting a tightly-wound story that veers far from the possessed child clichés of the ilk. We are confronted with facts that defy logic and yet there is nothing here that convinces it is supernatural. We are meant to decide on our own and guess as to what Tommi really is, a messenger of evil or a harbinger of truth, and while there is plenty in the end to let you close the loop, there is ambiguity enough to keep you guessing.

Deep in the Wood is available on VOD and iTunes and releasing on DVD September 27th.

Deep in the Wood (2015) Review

Movie description: Deep in the Wood is a 2015 (North American release 2017) Italian language thriller about a young boy who returns after being missing for five years, drawing concerns that he is not who he seems.

Director(s): Stefano Lodovichi

Actor(s): Filippo Nigro, Camilla Filippi, Giovanni Vettorazzo

Genre: Thriller

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  1. Melanie Anstett June 22, 2017

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