Girl in Woods DVD Review: Bring a Map

Girl in Woods. The title kind of tells you the gist of it, no? Eh, not exactly. Girl Stranded in Woods with Massive Psychological Issues and No Meds paints a more accurate picture, but how do we get there? I’ll try to explain.

Grace (Juliet Reeves London) bore witness to (or might have been the cause of) the suicide of one (or more) of her parents when she was a child. Even before that, she would hallucinate monsters in her closet and lamented that her father (Lee Perkins) never believed in her cries for help, and instead would call for her mother (Charisma Carpenter). Despite her troubled home life, it seems her granddaddy (John Still) would always swoop in to make everything all right again.

Grace grows up, haunted by dreams and visions of her difficult childhood that medication can only hope to suppress, and meets a nice young man named Jim, whom she takes as her boyfriend, who in turn takes Grace waaaay out into the middle of nowhere to propose to her, without her meds, because what could possibly go wrong?

Well, everything, it would seem. Through a freak gun accident, Jim ends up with a bullet through the head (in oddly similar fashion to one of Grace’s parents). In a panic, she runs off without having paid any attention to how they got to where they were. Now lost in miles of Appalachian forest without a map, compass, GPS, food, water, blankets, or any basic survival or first-aid skills, once the meds wear off, the fun really begins. Over the course of the next month, we get to watch Grace’s sanity and well being gradually unravel, including some creepy visual moments. One thing that also doesn’t improve is her sense of direction. Despite trying different methods to track her progress in finding a way out, she keeps finding herself back at the spot where Jim died.

Late in the film, as more and more backstory is revealed and Grace becomes significantly, how shall I say…conflicted, the viewer starts to question whether what they’ve been seeing all along is even real. There are some unexpected twists, and some expected twists that didn’t come to pass. Let’s just say it could have had a happier ending, but I’m fine with how it turned out.

The DVD itself lacks any features whatsoever. Literally all that’s on the title screen is a ‘Play’ button. If you were hoping for subtitles, deleted scenes or commentary, sorry to disappoint.

With a cast of so few, and Juliet Reeves London carrying the vast majority of the movie, it’s admirably executed. Yes, you’ll be looking at a lot of trees throughout, but at 88 minutes, I didn’t feel it dragged or lost focus at any point. Every day in the journey brings new challenges and bizarre happenings. It’s not heavily cerebral, nor does it rely on cheesiness or jump-scares to keep the viewer engaged. Hallucinations aside, it seems like a relatively plausible tale of one woman’s wooded woe.

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Mark Buckingham

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