(director/writer: Chris Nash; cinematographer: Pierce Derks; editor: Alex Jacobs; cast: Ry Barrett (Johnny), Andres Pavlovic (Kris), Cameron Love (Colt), Reece Presley (The Ranger), Liam Leone (Troy), Charlotte Creaghan (Aurora), Lea Rose Sebastians (Brodie), Sam Roulston (Ehren), Alexander Oliver (Evan), Lauren-Marie Taylor (The Woman); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Shannon Hanmer, Peter Kuplowsky; IFC/Shudder; 2024-Canada)

“A violent cabin-in-the-woods horror pic that is creepy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Chris Nash’s feature film debut, after making short films, offers an arthouse version of the trashy Friday the 13th franchise films and a fresh voice in making thoughtful horror films.

Nash directs and writes it in the style of a “The Blair Witch Project” found footage film.

The story is told from the POV of the unstoppable undead killer, who rises from his grave after a visitor at his crime scene mistakenly takes a necklace found on a pipe–which mysteriously kept the killer buried. The killer thereby returns to the world with a blood-lust for renewed revenge killings.

The result is a violent cabin-in-the-woods horror pic that is creepy, with at least one graphic killing simply so grotesque it should revolt even the most hard-ass horror fan.
The tale is set in the wilderness, where the White Pine Massacre of lumberjacks took place several years back. The killer returning is the undead Johnny (Ry Barrett), a retarded victim of bullying, who comes up from his grave to begin a new killing spree using an assortment of lumberjack tools he steals from a ranger station in the woods. The tools were used by the timber industry to destroy the forest when not following the government guidelines.

While slowly walking in the pristine forest, the muted and masked giant, Johnny, comes upon a group of week-end hiker friends sitting around a campfire: Colt (Cameron Love), Troy (Liam Leone), Ehren (Sam Roulston) and Evan (Alexander Oliver), who are there with their heard but mostly unseen girlfriends Kris (Andrea Pavlovic), Aurora (Charlotte Creaghan) and Brodie (Lea Rose Sebastianis). The campers are visiting the woods to check-out the scene of the White Pine killing spree, and they will serve the plot to be dispatched with by Johnny in creative and entertaining ways.

While hiking in the woods, Johnny talks only to fill us in on the backstory of his past life and killing spree, and shows us his dying need to punish anyone he comes into contact with.

The story is intense, menacing and bloody, but not always convincing. The film is eerie but not eerie enough to rise to top level horror. Its pace is slow, and it’s not executed as well as it’s scripted.

It played at the Sundance Film Festival.