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Evil in the Woods Review – From Tight Horror to DIY Torture Tutorial

Evil in the Woods Review – From Tight Horror to DIY Torture Tutorial
Anything but wooden … Schlitter: Evil in the Woods. Photograph: Publicity image

From pruning knives to table-saws and pulley-activated mousetraps, DIY enthusiasts will find delight in the rigorously crafted and intelligently shot French horror-thriller “Schlitter: Evil in the Woods.” Directed by Pierre Mouchet, this debut film meticulously uses its 73-minute runtime to ensure every detail and conversation holds significance. The lurid elements of the storyline are justified and deeply rooted in the sinister setting of the Vosges forest.

The film’s plot centers on Lucas (played by Louka Melieva), who has returned to the countryside to bury his parents after they perish in a house fire. However, Lucas harbors a dark secret from his past. When he was eight, his lumberjack father accidentally killed his friend Mathias in a car accident and chose to cover it up. Accompanied by his girlfriend Julie (Léna Laprès) and friend Arnaud (Côme Levin), Lucas encounters Mathias’s father (Gilles David), now a wheelchair-bound widower. When their car breaks down, Lucas and his companions are forced to stay the night and are introduced to the local custom of “schlitter” – transporting lumber down steep slopes using a perilous sled.

Arnaud, the skeptical one, fails to recognize the ominous undertones of their host’s cheerful demeanor – a mask expertly portrayed by Gilles David. Mouchet skillfully builds a palpable atmosphere with initial shots of the forest, creating a sense of place so authentic you can almost smell the woodchips and tofaille, a local stew. This immersive setting paradoxically distracts from the impending horror, yet makes the subsequent atrocities feel disturbingly plausible within this claustrophobic environment.

Mouchet strings together a series of tightly constructed scenes within the confines of the house, delivering a burst of both physical and psychological torment that lasts half an hour. This segment alone is enough to put many bloated Hollywood horror franchises to shame. The director’s masterful handling of the film’s limited runtime demonstrates his remarkable ability, leaving audiences eager to see what he can do with more resources in future projects.

• Schlitter: Evil in the Woods is available on digital platforms from 15 July.

Source: The Guardian