Into the Woods poster

A review by Robert Long II ©2010

Starring Nancy Feliciano • Phil Herman • Tiffany Sinclair

Written and directed by Phil Herman

Edited by Christopher Kahler

Music score by Joe Sherlock

(IMDb plot summary): Danielle is stuck in a dead end relationship with a married man. It takes a turn for the worse when he leaves her and then comes back and brutality rapes her. Stripped of everything she wakes drugged and lost in the woods. With a few clues and constant torments, she runs from an unseen character that little by little reveals his intention and who he is. When she returns to reality, an explosive climax ties up all loose ends and conflicts.

Wake Up Call

This is one of those films that is hard for me to review. I have watched it a few times and have jotted down some notes every time I have had it on. At the end of it all I have come to the conclusion that it is an experimental film about a nightmare; but whose nightmare is it? Danielle’s or Charlie’s? I asked the filmmaker a few questions after the fact, but here is what I had guessed ahead of time. My thoughts are that this production was done in several states by several different contributors. My reasoning for this is that the locals change dramatically, as does the acting styles and direction. The camera and lighting set ups seem different. From an experimental standpoint that makes it interesting, as I wanted to see how well the separate components were going to gel together. This is the impression the movie left me with.

Charlie (Phil Herman)

Robert: Was this a across-the-country-filmmaker project?

Phil: Because of budget restrictions it was done like that. If so, how many filmmakers were involved and how were they involved? Some of the exterior woods shots were filmed in Pa by filmmaker Ryan Cavalline. The conversations shots were shot by Tiffany Sinclair and Joe Sherlock. With some tie in stuff by Chris Kahler. A conflict in schedules had Joel D. Wynkoop shooting his stuff with the lovely Catherine Wynkoop.

Tiffany Sinclair as Cindy

Robert: Did the main female character interact with any of the other characters besides Charlie?

Phil: The lead actress only really had scenes with Charlie. All the other stuff was shot on the span when she got hurt in order to try to get the movie finished quicker. It was planned differently but by the time she was able to shoot again would of been to late for the other actors who had other shoots planned. By that I mean “in person”?

Robert: This has the appearance of an experimental film because most everyone interacts over the phone.

Phil: It was an experiment that worked well. Due to the innovative editing painstaking placed by Chris Kahler that worked a miracle with this.

Nancy Feliciano trapped and tormented

Robert: How long did this project take to shoot and complete?

Phil: This project took 12 months to shoot because of a set back with the lead actress.The movie was shot on location in all types of weather and terrain in the woods. Nancy broke her ankle and shooting was postponed for nearly 4 months.

Phoning it in

Robert: Is there a fuller version of this with more special features?

Phil: There was a full version but the story dragged and did not have the flow that the edited version had. We wanted something that was like a marathon that had the viewers glued and actually listening an concerned about what was happening. All the reviewers so far that have seen it loved that it was not your regular color by numbers but an actual thinking mans thriller. Plus a lot of unnecessary nudity was cut so people would take this movie more serious and not think of it as a T/A exploitation movie. The nudity that saved was to show the viewer what better way to show confusion and fear than to wake in a unknown area completely nude. Everyone’s nightmare.

Robert: What is the end message to those that watch “Into the Woods”?

Phil: Who’s nightmare is this without giving to much away things unravel and are explained and it is not what you expected! Was this the female character’s nightmare? Was it Charlie’s nightmare? I like those questions and it is up to the viewer to make that decision. We will not divulge and spoil the viewers trip into my nightmare!

Filmmaker Phil Herman

The positives about this production is that it has a clever idea behind it. The synth music score done by veteran filmmaker Joe Sherlock is well done. Considering the uphill battle he would have had due to the nature of how this was done, Christopher Kahler does a commendable job of editing the story together. For the exploitation fans the is both male and female nudity, torture, bondage, and even some blood thrown in. I give actress Nancy Feliciano extra points for having to walk around a dangerous deserted building wearing nothing but high heels.Now the areas where it could have been improved are mostly on the technical side of things. More than once there were wind gusts going across the camera’s mic, making me wish that those scenes had been ADR’d in post. The wind was distracting. Lighting levels went from extreme blowout at times (Nancy’s jogging suit glowed on my screen) to low grainy levels (inside a car at night). The acting was not always consistent in the form of style and attitude because it was shot by several different people that had their own take on the material.

In the end I feel I cannot rate this fairly as this experimental film strays far afield from the type of movies I usually watch or review. I’m going to award it a 5/10 because it is daring as an experiment and that might interests viewers into wanting to see it from that standpoint alone.


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