Written by Brayden DeMorest-Purdy and Steven Roberts and directed by DeMorest-Purdy, BEYOND THE WOODS is a psychological thriller about a detective determined to solve the case of the mysterious death of a woman and the disappearance of her brother.
Co-writer Steven Roberts stars as Andrew Bennett, whose wife Laura (Christie Burke) supposedly committed suicide. Detective Reeves (Broadus Mattison) is on the case and doesn’t think Laura killed herself. To make things even stranger, Laura’s brother Jack (Jeff Evans-Todd) disappeared right before her funeral. The film opens with Andrew being questioned by Detective Reeves about his wife’s death. Through flashbacks and Andrew’s apathetic demeanor, the chilling, disturbing persona living inside him is eventually revealed.
In BEYOND THE WOODS, the focus is on Roberts for the majority of the movie, which makes him responsible for carrying the weight of the story. Even though his performance is riveting at times, the film lacks many other interesting elements after the big reveal early on, and this, unfortunately, causes it to grow stale. Jeff Evans-Todd gives an interesting portrayal of the alcoholic, down on his luck Jack, who begins to suspect that Andrew murdered his sister Laura. Things go from bad to worse for Jack when he confronts Andrew about his suspicions.
Andrew is clearly unstable, but I would have liked to have seen more of a backstory about his true emotional state and what led to his ultimate breakdown. After Jack accuses Andrew of murder, he takes Jack far out into the snowy wilderness and chains him to a tree, planning to leave him to die. The story is told in a non-linear fashion, jumping back and forth between Andrew being questioned by an increasingly frustrated Detective Reeves and Andrew being unable to bring himself to kill Jack.
The editing is sufficient and there is lots of snowy scenery as we see Andrew visiting Jack on a daily basis, who is now tied up in a shed and appears to be slowly freezing to death. After a while, the story becomes repetitive. Detective Reeves yells at Andrew to tell him what happened to Laura and Jack, and Andrew struggles with not being able to kill Jack. It is revealed very early in the film how Laura died, and even though it takes quite a bit longer to find out exactly what happened to Jack, with no plot twists or anything else of interest happening, it would have worked in favor of the film to have trimmed off about an hour of the nearly two-hour runtime.
I love a movie with a good slow burn, but sadly, I can’t say that’s the kind of film BEYOND THE WOODS turns out to be and I was left feeling very unsatisfied by the end. Roberts is superb as Andrew, but once all the secrets are revealed, and with nothing left to hold the interest of the viewer, the movie falls flat and I was just glad for it to be over.
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