Bad Movies Beware!
Upon wrapping Zardoz, I was a little stuck on what to watch next when this movie was thrown at me like a ball of poop from an angry monkey.
The Legend of Harrow Woods is not only indie, it’s a REALLY bad indie. Of course, as I type a comment like that, I feel inclined to defend myself against the barrage of people telling me that I hate indie flicks. I don’t; I actually rather enjoy them. I keep referring back to Open Season, but I’ve seen other decent ones as well, like The Babadook. And I keep intending to sit down and watch the Angry Video Game Nerd Movie, but I just haven’t yet.
The Legend of Harrow Woods opens with a date, which is significant…or not. Yeah. It goes right into opening credits after that with Christopher Walken’s reading of The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. Sure enough, the credits indicate that the movie is inspired by the poem, so maybe it won’t be so bad?
Yeah, kinda figured.
We get to see a montage of blurred stock footage and then a room with a crazed writer typing the word “death” over and over again while the room fills with blood. A full-on sequence begins with a digitized dancing naked chick and a club-mix of The Raven…
What. The. Ungodly. F**k.
WHAT THE ABSOLUTE HIPPO’S A** DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH THE RAVEN?!
By the way, I may have missed some small details because the video quality was, frankly, s**t in a dip bowl. A lot of it was so poor that I actually wrote in my notes that the movie was in stop-motion.
It’s Anna’s birthday, and she happens to be part of a paranormal group that goes on ghost hunts as a celebration of each member’s birthday. Gary, the leader and professor, is having a secret affair with Anna, and Anna also happens to be psychic. Also part of the group are Carl, James, Lewis, Steve, and Steve’s girlfriend, Rachel.
Gary brings up his idea of exploring Harrow Woods to look for the place where the witch, Lenore, was hung years ago during the witch trials. He also wants to explore a cabin where a writer supposedly went crazy and killed his family.
The group conducts a séance, and Anna sees flashes of memories from the woods, including the killer. There isn’t a whole lot of dialogue that means much until the crew arrives at the woods, and I kind of wish it’d stayed that way. The acting is horrendous, and the writing ain’t much better.
There is a flashback of Anna and Gary post-sex at Gary’s apartment. Anna gets into the shower and is attacked. Flashy-flashy, scream, Satanic stuff, POOF!
It was just a dream!
I hate that crap.
Another thing that sticks out when watching this pile of poo is the transitions. Each main scene transition is done with a stock fire burst with a raven in the middle, which goes along with the constant reading of the poem in the background throughout the film by our buddy Walken.
The rest of the movie takes place in the woods, understandably, as the team tries to track down information about the events that took place years before and have a few scares along the way. Victoria, a local psychic, joins them at the behest of Carl.
Victoria wastes no time in trying to seduce Steve when Rachel isn’t around. As it turns out, she’s not only psychic, but also a bit of a slut.
Well, never go camping without your basic needs, I guess.
Anna senses danger in Victoria immediately. Victoria touches everyone, claiming to sense things through touch and feel. At this juncture, she’s really the only interesting character.
Oh, don’t get too comfortable. That’ll change.
Note: At 33:36, nothing of any substantial importance has really happened. Oh, and Victoria, hands down, is the worst actor in the film. I know, I know, you often wondered about the others, but this woman is actually inept. It’s one thing to have bad writing and be able to do nothing with it. It’s another can of potted meat entirely when you have bad writing and do absolutely nothing with it whatsoever.
Anna breaks off and ends up finding the cabin. She wanders in and ends up in the basement where there is a library. The last bit of the movie is nothing more than flashbacks featuring the man who killed everyone in the cabin in a night club doing the same scene over and over again with different people.
Cue the random ballerina holding a crystal ball! Wait, what?!
WTF IS THIS IN THE MOVIE?! WHAT PURPOSE DOES THIS SERVE?!
Beyond that, it’s a LOT of broken flashbacks and symbolism that really doesn’t mean a whole lot of anything. There’s also a sequence where Victoria goes through and kills everyone one right after the other except for Anna. During all of this, Christopher Walken dutifully reads The Raven in the background because, you know, the film is based on the epic poem.
About as much as Super Mario Bros. was based on The Lord of the Rings.
Soon we find out that Victoria is the sister of the author-dude’s wife and has come to take out anyone who gets too close to the cabin. The flashback people arrive, and Anna gets killed.
And wakes up in her bed. Carl is there asking her if she’s ready for her birthday adventure.
It was all a dream.
VERDICT: SOMEBODY SHOOT ME.
I don’t give two fleas off an impotent donkey what anyone thinks about Troll 2, Manos: The Hands of Fate, or Battlefield Earth. These people have obviously never been visually raped by The Legend of Harrow Woods.
I was innocent, man. So innocent. So naïve in thinking I’d seen the worst movies ever made. I was wrong. God, I was so wrong. I’m being introduced to a slew of movies that were so bad they didn’t even make a cult following.
The acting is possibly the worst part of the movie. I get it: it’s indie. Fine. I’ve seen too many indie flicks with fantastic acting to accept that this is the level of quality I’m going to get when I sit down to watch what I affectionately call “A Handycam Movie.”
Victoria is the worst of the group, the actress pushing the extreme side of the “mysterious psychic chick” shtick by overacting every damned line to the point of stupidity. The others just deliver their lines with a forced casualty that makes it obvious that they’re just acting. I wondered way too often whether or not they were really even in character.
The writing is just bad. The writer is an obvious Joss Whedon fan, which is fine. I think Joss is amazing! I haven’t watched a film or show by him yet that I wasn’t a fan of. And imitation is the finest form of flattery. I get it. But at least do it well.
First off: This movie has NOTHING to do with The Raven other than Christopher Walken reading it in the background. And it’s not really even him, it’s the same sound byte floating around YouTube. Chances are he had no idea that this movie was made and probably has no idea it KIND OF exists. I say “kind of” because good luck getting your hands on it.
If Poe were alive, he’d probably be too depressed to sue.
Have another one, Ed.
The story jumps all over the place like a hyperactive cheerleader in a room full of trampolines. Often you can’t tell what’s flashback and what’s not because, like Zombie Lake, they either use the corny fireball transition, or they use f**k-all and you just get to sit there and deal with it.
The final act of the movie is really nothing more than watching what is supposed to be the author-guy’s descent into madness as he lives the same scene in his mind over and over again, only the characters keep changing. This would’ve been effective if had been done…well, maybe just not done at all. It takes away from a movie that already has about as much to give as a paraplegic hooker with an iron lung.
THE ENDING. CHRIST, THE ENDING.
Nothing flushes the cinematic toilet harder than a s**t ending, and the whole “It was a dream!” bit is what gave birth to every cliché known to man. It’s a copout, plain and simple. In this film, it’s just tragic. As if the movie isn’t bad enough, there’s one step further that curb-stomps its head into the ground with an ending that’s about as satisfying as a tofurky burger with a gluten-free bun or spaghetti with ketchup for sauce.
Do yourself a favor: take your copy of Troll 2 and watch it. On repeat. For a day. You might just get to the level of pain that this movie will put you in, and even then nothing compares. It’s like being kicked in the beans by angry circus midgets. If you see it on YouTube, report it for being offensively bad. If someone sends you a copy on DVD, take it out on the road and play Interstate Frisbee.