As someone who spent most of their college years staring into the void known as Youtube, I distinctly remember following along with Crypt TV. There would always be a new short film featuring a new and fascinating monster or concept. Little did any of us know that years later, Crypt TV would be expanding upon their own creative IP gradually. FIrst within their own Youtube page. Then, with the expansion of “The Birch” via episodes on Facebook. Now, Crypt TV has partnered with Peacock to deliver to us a full-length YA-focused series based on two of their original shorts, “The Door in the Woods” and “The Girl in the Woods,” with the series taking its name from the latter short. While THE GIRL IN THE WOODS series struggles to find its footing in the beginning, it eventually finds its stride.
THE GIRL IN THE WOODS stars Stefanie Scott as Carrie, Misha Osherovich as Nolan, Sofia Bryant as Tasha, Will Yun Lee as Arthur Dean, Kylie Liya Page as Sara, Reed Diamond as Hosea, and Leonard Roberts as Khalil. Krysten Ritter (“Jessica Jones”) directed the first four episodes, including the pilot and Jacob Chase (“Come Play”) directed the last four episodes. Jane Casey Modderno (“The Birch”) serves as head writer. THE GIRL IN THE WOODS was written by an all-woman writing team.
In the first season of the YA supernatural drama, THE GIRL IN THE WOODS, viewers meet Carrie, who has run away from an arguably sus community that gives off dystopian vibes ala The Giver. Fans of the short films that came before will realize straight away what is behind the door that Carrie has escaped from. She finds her way to a sleeping mining town just a little ways away, where she encounters Tasha and Nolan. It’s not long before a friendship is developed, especially when it is revealed that something has escaped with Carrie. While Tasha and Nolan find Carrie to be unreliable and justifiably sus, too many coincidences start lining up to support the statements she has made to them about who she is and what she does. However, after abandoning the door, Carrie has hell to pay and then some.
The premise itself of a guardian to protect all of mankind from the monsters that lurk in the shadows isn’t new. There are a variety of genre stories that follow this particular pattern, especially with a female-presenting character at the helm. That said, there are elements of the series that help it stand out, even if just a teeny bit. The idea of sacrifice and how we can justify the pain that comes with sacrifice is a strong throughline for the character Carrie. Seeing how the pain of sacrifice is explored in a younger character, especially one battling with PTSD from the things she’s experienced, is a smart decision. Though, because I had seen the original two shorts, I did have a moment wondering if the emotional gut punches would hit a bit harder if they aged down the trio a smidge. However, the Carrie we see in those shorts is not the same Carrie we see in THE GIRL IN THE WOODS. This is a new version and the decisions made in the series properly reflect that.
What truly helps keep the series from sinking, though, is the natural chemistry between the core trio of characters. While Stefanie Scott‘s Carrie starts off as a guarded, traumatized woman, the vulnerability she shows throughout the series feels earned. Especially in her more intimate moments with Sofia Bryant‘s Tasha. The exploration of Carrie’s relationship with Will Yun Lee’s Arthur Dean is also a strong point for her as we get to see how their trials have shaped the two characters and their relationship. Misha Osherovich is dynamite. They easily draw the focus onscreen, bringing Modderno’s multifaceted character to life easily. There’s a certain episode where Osherovich’s Nolan will break your heart and it is in large part due to their performance and Jacob Chase’s direction in that episode.
I do want to dedicate a section to the below-the-line crafts as this is a series that provides plenty to focus on there. Because of how heavily action-focused THE GIRL IN THE WOODS is, the stunts department deserves all the kudos. The fighting scenes where we learn more about Carrie and her community, in particular, are very well done. The costume designs created by Erin Aldrige Orr (and supervised by Dionne Barena and tailored by Savannah Kay Gordon) are most noticeable in that opening episode, creating that visual divide between Carrie and her people and the townspeople just nearby. While the costume design does lean more dystopian-esque for the cult community, it is something that is acknowledged as distinctive within the universe of the show, which aids in grounding the design a bit more. Of course, what would a Crypt TV project be without acknowledging the FX and creature designs? The Brute makes a re-appearance and it is still just as concerning as ever. The other creatures introduced in this series are also a mixture of scary and deceptive, with The Hypnotist creature drawing focus super early on with its distinctive design. Shout out to all involved here!
Overall, THE GIRL IN THE WOODS is a bit of a mixed bag. The first couple of episodes do start off a bit rough, with the writing bearing the full weight of that responsibility. At times, the dialogue is clunky and Scott’s Carrie bears the brunt of the awkward dialogue choices written into the script. That all said, the performances delivered by the cast, especially the core trio are strong. Misha Osherovich, in particular, stands out, providing nuance and that connectivity needed to make us just want to give them a hug. The below the line crafts are strong as well in this, with the stunts, costume design, and FX design drawing the most notice from this critic. Keeping in mind that this series is geared more towards young adults, I would say go into this series cautiously. It’s not a perfect expansion of Crypt TV’s IP, but it does entertain if you can look past its more obvious flaws.
All eight episodes of THE GIRL IN THE WOODS are now available on Peacock.
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