“A group of students go to a haunted forest called Harrow Woods in New England for a weekend vacation to investigate the disappearance of horror novelist George Carney and his family who have been missing (presumed dead) for two years. Led by lecturer, Karl Mathers, the group embark on their investigation into the forest. They discover that in the 17th century the infamous witch, Lenore Selwyn, was burnt at the stake within Harrow Woods. As she struggled against the flames she cursed the land her ashes fell upon. The group are murdered one by one. The George Carney story appears in flashback as the students, particularly Anna, a psychic, investigate Harrow Woods and the abandoned log cabin where the Carney family was suspected to have been murdered two years previously.” – Wikipedia
So let me tell you about The Legend of Harrow Woods / Evil Calls: The Raven / Alone in the Dark. The movie suffers from an identity crisis. It was called, Alone in the Dark. Then it was changed to Evil Calls: The Raven and then sadly it was released on DVD, with the title The Legend of Harrow Woods. The crisis doesn’t stop there. If it weren’t for the Wikipedia plot outline posted above I wouldn’t have been able to make sense of this film. Wish I had read it first because this movie is confusing, it expects you to make assumptions that films shouldn’t have you make. Remember what they say about assumptions. “They make an ass out of you u and umption”. Everything about this movie is in crisis.
Keeping in mind it took years to make this movie, I am surprised it made any sense at all. As I understand it, production was started in 2002, it was finished and released around 2008 and in 2011 released on to DVD. This movie is so confusing because it doesn’t explain things that need to be explained. You have got to take time in a story for a characters from to time to recite some exposition.
The film gives just enough exposition to know that some people are going out to the woods to the to investigate the disappearance of the Carney family a few years ago. It seems to stop there. Soon we discover that these people doing the investigating are being watched via a live feed by some old creepy dude in a suit. Is he CIA, some kinda weird businessman? It’s later revealed that that these investigators have set up cameras everywhere so their investigation can be streamed through some website. Until then we have no idea the investigators are aware they are being streamed to the net.
There’s a medium who keeps having visions of the missing guy, George Carney played by Richard Driscoll, that make no sense. At first, we don’t know if she’s having a vision or the film is just showing us what went down. While our medium is searching a basement in a cabin in the woods, I think they knew was there, where the family went missing a few years ago. Without any exposition, we are forced to make judgments about what we are seeing and left wondering if we are right. This takes us out of the film. In this case, that’s a good thing. Because, anything taking us out of this film is appreciated.
To be honest, if it wasn’t for this blog I would have stopped watching this movie about a minute in to it. The only notable moments were the voice over from Christopher Walken reading Poe’s The Raven. Why in the hell is voice over is constantly playing throughout the film is never explained, or if it was I must have missed it one of the times I zoned out while day dreaming about a time when this movie would finally end. The other notable moments were the nudity. I did zone right back in for the nudity of course. Being a creepy old guy, that’s usually enough for me to give a movie an A+ but not in this case. Though thankful for it, it wasn’t enough to save this film. And, unfortunately the biggest nude scene in the movie I had to waste being confused as to WTF was going in this fancy club bathroom.
Seriously, they tried to give the visions of this family man gone missing a Shinning feel. They even did the blood rushing down the walls and out of doors multiple times to bring the point home.
It was also hard to tell where in the hell we were. By that I mean, a few of the characters had British accents and the ones that didn’t I am pretty sure where faking their American accents. I was lead to believe that we were in New England somewhere. Maybe they mentioned it and I just zoned out again or maybe I had read it somewhere prior to watching the film. Doesn’t matter, the story was just hard to follow, put together poorly and was simply just hard to watch.
Once again, I hate slamming a horror movie. Specially one like this where it’s obvious that someone cared enough about it to spend over a decade working with it. But, it’s just bad. I am not here to protect filmmakers, I am here to offer my opinion on horror movies.
Low budget horror filmmakers really need to watch Friday the 13th. The original one. It had a simple to follow story. It was scary, it was fun and it made millions. It was low budget, if you read up on the story of how the film came to be you can learn a lot about how to make money from the horror genre. In a nutshell, make something watchable, easy to follow, throw in some scares and put money into real special effects and leave the CGI to shitty big budget movies.
I will place a link to buy the DVD of The Legend of Harrow Woods. And, because I am nice guy, here are some reasons why you might enjoy it… You love barely being able to hear Christopher Walken recite Poe’s The Raven, over and over again. You don’t care about a story, gore, logic or scares, you just want to fast-forward though the movie to see some titties. You like scenes that take place in the dark and are filmed in just about total blackness so you can’t see a fucking thing. You want to see poor excuse for a 3D movie. You like being bored.
Cast of Characters:
Jason Donovan … Gary, a website designer who helps plan the trip into Harrow Woods
Rik Mayall … Winston, a menacing spirit of a former hotel manager who tricks writer George Carney into killing his wife
Sir Norman Wisdom – Shot a small scene in 2002, aged at 86, under the title Alone in the Dark. Wisdom had no idea it was gratuitous
Robin Askwith plays George’s brother Vincent who is having an affair with George’s wife (played by model Jules Wheeler).
Richard Waters plays Karl Mathers
Sonya Vine plays Rachel
Kathryn Rooney … Anna – Filmed In 2002
Charlie Allan … Lewis
Ben Tolkien … James
Paul Battin … Steve
Jules Wheeler … Vivienne Carney
Eileen Daly … Victoria
Vass Anderson … Professor Jackson
Keren Hatcher … Lisa Carney
Jamie Roberts … Steve Carney
Jim Johnson … Vincent Price’s voice
Rebekka Raynor … Demon’s mother
Marianne Faithfull … Narrator – Faithfull lent her voice to the film although it was recorded several years earlier, when the project was still titled Alone in the Dark (I have no recollection of a narrator in this movie.)