Review: ‘Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror’

Kier-La Janisse’s Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror, is set to release on Shudder on January 10, is a fine addition to this trend of terrifying docu-scholarship. 

At 192 minutes, the film has plenty of times to round up every wicker man and child of the corn lurking in the shadow of the blasphemous standing stone and ruined church.

There are clips from 200 films, and interviews with scholars, fans, and filmmakers like Robert Eggers (The Witch), Lawrence Gordon Clark (A Ghost Story for Christmas), and Emma Tammi (The Wind). 

The documentary hews out a twisting path for newcomers, but even subgenre fans will likely discover new, unnervingly carved gems. 

Part of the documentary’s secret (or not so secret) plot is to define what exactly folk horror is. 

The term has been most commonly used to describe UK films from the late 60s and early 70s. What the doc calls the unholy trinity of Witchfinder General, Blood on Satan’s Claw, and The Wicker Man focused on pagan rituals and witchcraft in rural, remote villages in the British Isles.