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Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched: A History Of Folk Horror – Fantasia 2021

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Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched: A History Of Folk Horror – Fantasia 2021

Synopsis:
WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED explores the folk horror phenomenon from its beginnings in a trilogy of films – Michael Reeves’ Witchfinder General (1968), Piers Haggard’s Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man (1973) – through its proliferation on British television in the 1970s and its culturally specific manifestations in American, Asian, Australian and European horror, to the genre’s revival over the last decade. Touching on over 100 films and featuring over 50 interviewees, WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED investigates the many ways that we alternately celebrate, conceal and manipulate our own histories in an attempt to find spiritual resonance in our surroundings.
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The history of the folk horror subgenre is explored in . The combination of folklore with the horror genre has been done since practically the start of cinema, with some of the earliest examples being silent films such as Häxan (1922) and Puritan Passions (1923). However, folk horror as a subgenre truly entered the public consciousness with the “unholy trilogy” of Michael Reeves' Witchfinder General (1968), Piers Haggard's Blood on Satan's Claw (1971), and Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man (1973). Filmmaker Kier-La Janisse breaks down the history of folk horror around the world, before touching upon the subgenres' recent resurgence with films such as The Witch (2015) and Midsommar (2019).

Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched: A History Of Folk Horror is a very in-depth documentary about the folk horror subgenre, directed and narrated by film critic and author, turned documentarian Kier-La Janisse. The 3h14m runtime of Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched is divided into six chapters, which explore the aforementioned unholy trilogy, the history of folk horror in the UK, US, and the rest of the world, the connection to paganism and witchcraft, and the recent revival of the subgenre. Along with interviews with the likes of Robert Eggers (The Witch), Alice Lowe (Prevenge), and Piers Haggard (Blood on Satan's Claw), the film features poetry readings, a score by Jim Williams (A Field in England), and special animated sequences featuring collage art by Guy Maddin.

In a similar vein to Mark Cousin's The Story of Film: An Odyssey, Kier-La Janisse presents Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched: A History Of Folk Horror as a cinematic essay about the subgenre that doubles as a film syllabus for the dozens of films discussed over the three-hour running time. While the length might be a bit too long to watch in a single sitting, the chapter-based format allows Woodland Dark and Days Bewitched to be watched in small chunks, as we learn that the term “folk horror” can mean different things depending on what part of the world you are in.

Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched: A History Of Folk Horror is streaming as part of the virtual 2021 Fantasia Film Festival


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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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