Hidden in the Woods (2012) d. Patricio Valladares (Chile)
An assault on the senses and the soul, one whose curtain-raiser features a father raping his daughter, then dropping the ensuing infant into a bucket nine months later and feeding it raw meat. Exploitation nightmare logic holds sway over cohesive storytelling, presenting a dark fable where destitute chainsaw-wielding psychopaths outrun and outgun gun-toting police officers, where runaway waifs turn cannibal, where one’s shattered brachioradialis (aka the forearm bone) becomes a lethal weapon, where everyone’s dark side is their only side....
Shot in less than two weeks for under $100K, director Patricio Valladares co-wrote the “based on true events” script for this hometown shocker with Andrea Cavaletto. (Apparently, he told the Chilean Film Board that he was working on a “domestic drama” in order to get funding, then went off to work his sleazy magic unsupervised.) While there’s little denying Valladares’ power of savage visual imagery and social commentary, he occasionally sabotages himself by breaking his own brutal spell as he stretches our suspension of disbelief to its limits; every time our synapses choke on the narrative action’s implausibility, it’s an unfortunate reminder that we’re just watching a movie. The results are raw, rough, rude, ridiculous and raucous, which you will either find enjoyably batshit crazy, hauntingly traumatic, outrageously sadistic, hilariously over the top, or a combination of all of the above.
Regardless of your final estimation, Hidden in the Woods is an experience you’ll not soon forget. Michael Biehn and his lovely wife/business partner Jennifer Blanc certainly thought so; they snapped up the English language remake rights immediately after its world premiere at Fantasia 2012, and are entrenched in post-production as of this writing. Valladares is again at the helm, with Biehn starring alongside Blanc, William Forsythe, and Electra Avellan (aka one half of the Crazy Babysitter Twins).
Artsploitation’s recent DVD release comes complete with a behind-the-scenes featurette that, while relatively random in its ordering and selection of footage, provides a portrait of Valladares as a centered and focused young man who maintains a low-key atmosphere even on his broiling hot locations sets. Frequently laughing or smiling while splashing fake blood around or directing his actors to scream louder, the writer/director sets the rebellious yet fun-loving tone that is the mark of any solid independent filmmaker. There is also a short interview with him from the Fantasia film festival just days after the remake deal had gone down, and you can see that he’s still not quite believing his good fortune.
There is also included a marvelous 8-page booklet, highlighted by Travis Crawford’s enthusiastic and intelligent essay about the film’s tumultuous reception at London Frightfest, and the fierce controversy that ensued. It’s a wonderful look at how subjective everyone’s experience can be with regards to such outrageous material, and a fine addition to the superb Artsploitation package.
Hidden in the Woods is now available for purchase from Artsploitation Films and can be ordered HERE.
--Aaron Christensen, HorrorHound Magazine