Always does this seem to me is that all the root causes of demonic possession in films stem from the ye ole ages when the land was young and naive. Nearly in the same vein are The Evil Dead and Ginger Snaps in which these prequels explore ancient curses and demons to be the reason for all the present carnage and this is just to quickly name a couple of examples. Darrin Reed and F. Miguel Valenti’s The Eyes of the Woods follows a similar structure but separate’s itself by beginning in the past with a pilgrim village Knobb’s Creek being slaughtered by a vengeful father who lost his daughter and blames God for his loss. He leads Satan into his soul giving him ultimate strength, sustaining life, and a thirst for human flesh. Four hundred years later to the present day, five friends are hunted and tormented by the legendary creature of Knobb’s Creek whom has consumed numerous lives over the years feeding his body with souls.
What might be the most interesting piece about the Eyes of the Woods is Mark Villalobos whom’s hands are deep within the bloody special effects and also behind the creature played by Walter Phelan (Dr. Satan of House of a 1000 Corpses). The prosthetic applications on lanky Phelan are a nice touch making Phelan look like Baraka from Mortal Kombat 2, but naked. What a shame that the sound editing screws up the whole character; at best the foley sounds come off as loony-toony and the boom mike, or whatever was used, doesn’t produce quality sound – what can you expect with 2.0 Dolby?
However, the Creature has been overshadowed and not by the our young fresh-faced victims. The forest becomes more frightening than the actually villain much like, again, The Evil Dead. Entire lakes move, night is actually day, day is actually night are only a few examples of how our group of kids get turned around and completely “mind-fucked!” The Creature is completely overshadowed and becomes just a meager product of it’s environment – the forest. Unlike my comparison to The Evil Dead, the trees don’t reach out and rape women nor bust down doors to swallow souls. Instead, the trees act as an Electric Magnetic Pulse disabling phones and cars. How and why you say? Fuck if I know. Eyes of the Woods doesn’t explain much about the cause and one could guess that evil forces, especially demonic forces, are working to keep modern technology out of the bush!
Our young bunch deem very unlikable and audiences will have a hard time sympathizing with them. We want them to die just because there is nothing interesting about them, no showy love poise, no fight for something to live for and if anything, we can cheer for the character of “Winter” portrayed by Johnny Moreno, who in my opinion acts and looks just like James Duval from Cornered! Quirky and likable, had me rolling a couple of times, yet completely idiotic and still doesn’t become a character that you can root for to live. Even the female characters (who give us any gratuitous nudity and only gratuitous lake crossing in their bikinis) are just, well, blah. Now, there is gratuitous nudity with a chick walking out of the cave, covered in blood, and walking aimlessly through the woods and stumbles upon a backpacking couple who are not helpful. The backstory on this naked, covered in blood, chick doesn’t explain much of a background besides that her friend went in a cave and died. That’s about it – just walking tits.
Eyes of the Woods, not to be confused with The Hills Have Eyes or The Woods Have Eyes, homes into other horror flicks, but tries too hard to become a cult favorite. Instead, a mesh of mess chops off the film’s livelihood and throws it out the window because, basically, there is no use for the film’s manhood. Eyes of the Woods becomes another direct-to-video to take the direct-to-graveyard, do not pass go, do not collect $200 route. Even with a veteran villain, a special effects guru, and a decent, if a confusing, premise, this satanic creature feature won’t settle well with horror fans and will certainly leave a bad taste.