Something Walks in the Woods finds little surprise or intrigue in its dime-story assembly of found-footage horror.

Something Walks in the Woods (2023) Review By Mark McPherson

Published on May 31, 2023

Rating 1.5 /5

There is some credit due for Something Walks in the Woods and how it stages its found-footage format of a man investigating paranormal happenings in the woods. The way that it’s filmed and the acting on display feels like a relatively authentic amateur documentary. It’s presented as tactile and straightforward as possible to be believable enough. That being said, it engrains itself too much in the found-footage format it forgets to find anything scary or insightful in its budgeted approach to authenticity with cheap thrills.

Bill Howard is a filmmaker who got word of something paranormal being spotted in the woods. He drives many hours to interview a woman who finds something strange in the woods, and it’s honestly surprising the film didn’t spend extra time focusing on that drive. This is mainly because the interview itself is highly pedestrian. Bill frames this shot as though he had two cameras, with another over his shoulder to record the woman giving the account. He doesn’t. This leaves the viewer with an awkward one-take shot of Bill interviewing a woman we can barely gauge with her mostly hidden expression. Scenes like this are enough to take one out of the found-footage format for lacking in the insight to film this discovery properly.

Bill’s approach to investigating is a mixture of being highly analytical and incredibly boring. To find references for supernatural happenings of the area, Bill proceeds to read books from the local library on the subject. And, yes, the footage shows him going to the library, setting his camera down, and giving a time-lapse of all the many books he read to find info on the region's sordid history. Most filmmakers keep this footage off to the side, but how else are you supposed to make reading for a documentary exciting? It’s all the more baffling in how the library scene culminates with him ringing up the local owners to see if he can spend one night filming in the mysterious woods that may contain some paranormal force.

It becomes clear as the film plods that it only has one horror trick up its sleeve, choosing to save it for the very last minute. It’s a low-rent Blair Witch knock-off in how the film does all the grunt work of slowly leading its central character towards something mildly spooky happening in the woods. But there’s little flair or atmosphere to any of this. At one point, while camping in the woods, Bill finds a human bone on the ground. He treats this discovery too professionally, using his deductive reasoning far to calm for finding a visible human bone in the woods. Why should we be if Bill isn’t frightened by such simple tactics as his tent shifting or the ground shaking?

There may be something to be said of how passive much of the media focused on the supernatural treats these discoveries. So many “real” documentaries on uncovering haunted locations are treated far too passively in making even the mildest discoveries in the search for ghosts. Sadly, such commentary and satire don’t feel present in this film that is far too procedural to ever be compelling for its budgeted frights.

Something Walks in the Woods finds little surprise or intrigue in its dime-story assembly of found-footage horror. It’d be nice to compliment this slow plotting as building into something brilliant, but the ultimate third-act reveal is a gigantic dud. Even the epilogue feels like a slog for making this scenario way too real. And by real, I mean an investigation so dreary and mundane that it feels almost entirely like a haunted location exploration travelogue that was too boring to ever pick up on a network.

Written By

Mark McPherson

Written By

Mark McPherson

Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.

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