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Woodlands Dark & Days Bewitched: A History Of Folk Horror (2021)

Woodlands Dark & Days Bewitched: A History Of Folk Horror

I don’t tend watch many docos these days, as the classic doc format has become (for me) tired with the reliance on talking heads and predictable A-Z structure - which is why I couldn’t get through the ‘In Search of Darkness’ docs that many seemed to love.

But Kier-La Janisse’s stunning 3.5 hour exploration of folk horror cinema had me under its hypnotic spell from first frame to last for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it’s just a great doc, well researched and presented, even if those dreaded talking heads are present, a trope that’s pretty bloody hard to avoid (though look at the great Crossfire Hurricane doc on the Rolling Stones where the present day band only appear in voiceover).

Smartly, Janisse also dispenses with the Big 3 British folk horror titles (The Wicker Man, Witchfinder General & Blood On Satan’s Claw) in the first 15 mins, leaving ample time to expose the many other titles from all over the globe.

After Britain, Janisse takes us to America, Europe, Asia & Australia in her exhaustive quest to mine this rich genre. Some firm favorites make an appearance along the way such as Picnic at Hanging Rock, Pumpkinhead, The Witch and Midsommar among the many more obscure titles.

The other pleasing element is the hypnotic use of music and animation, conjuring images of gnarled trees, witches, and pagan rituals. The moody drone-like acoustic soundscapes & dark folk explosions from Jim Williams will have soundtrack heads salivating over the inevitable vinyl release.

I love how Days Bewitched has seemingly infected the horror community online with everyone feverishly expanding their watchlists. It feels like folk horror is having its moment in the zeitgeist right now and I am here for it.

Hail Paimon!

4.5 wormy eyeballs out of 5.

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