WAKEWOOD: In Praise of the Pagan

Vertigo Films will be releasing Wake Wood (cert. 18) at UK cinemas on 25th March 2011 and the DVD release (£15.99) will follow on 28th March 2011 courtesy of Momentum Pictures.


Death to pale imitation and all hail British horror that plants it feet in the earthy, murky pre-Christian past. Let the Americans churn out Torture-Porn and sub-Rob Zombie splatter excusions and leave the creepy, old magick to a country with a history of sacrifice, burnings, curses and evil spells.

Hammer’s upcoming DVD release does just that, taking a similar premise to Stephen King’s Pet Sematary – parents driven mad by grief using anicient methods to resurrect their fallen offspring – and transforming it by transporting it to the kind of comfortably English village we are all doubtless familiar with. This is the England of Fox Hunting, Warm Beer in country pubs and ancient hedgerows.

The difference lies in a sense of time, place and history. Old religion is part of the soil, even our Christianity in this country is shot through with reminders of our Paganistic past. It’s why films like The Wickerman, Outcast and Blood on Satan’s Claw resonate so strongly. On a small island, we’re never to far removed from our rural pasts where myths and legends continued to matter for a great deal longer than in the cities.


Which leads onto to one of the other themes of Wake Wood. Town versus country. Admittedly, the the bereved parents of the piece aren’t as metropolitan as some fish out of water characters in the movies, but they are definitely a band apart from the people of the village that they’ve moved to. Timothy Spall’s village patriarch illustrates this perfectly. A traditional shire Tory through and through… apart from worshipping the old gods of course but then, what do I know? I don’t tend to hang around with that set so who knows what pre-Christian hijinks they get up to? All joking aside, Spall’s character is an interesting one, simultaneously sinister and paternalistic.

The villagers are close in spirit to the people of The Wickerman, a close knit community of believers who’ve kept the old ways going in spite of the encroachment of the modern world and while the good people of Wake Wood aren’t looking to sacrifice an uptight cop in an ill fitting uniform, they are still creepily other in their beliefs and practices.


Wake Wood continues Hammer’s exciting return to production. The worthwhile remake of Let the Right One In (Let Me In) is a rare beast, a remake that doesn’t embarass it’s source, while Wake Wood is an interesting return to the more downbeat offerings the studio made in the early 70s (Straight on Til Morning, Demons of the Mind) when it wasn’t exposing Ingrid Pitt’s ample charms to the world. Wake Wood stands up as a good example of uniquely British horror.

Check out a charmingly ritualistic clip from the movie as an example, available exclusively at EMPIRE ONLINE with their review of WAKE WOOD


1 Response » to “WAKEWOOD: In Praise of the Pagan”

  1. [...] can read more about the pagan influences in Wake Wood in last weeks blog, IN PRAISE OF THE PAGAN but then take a moment to consider the film’s place in the Hammer Films cannon. Since [...]

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