Things get weird in the woods
A pretty solid piece of weird horror. Now, I tend to grade of a bit of a curve when it comes to independent horror movies, but I really didn’t have to here. This little slice of weird stands well on its own. The acting was good for horror. We’re not talking Academy Award winning performances, but still pretty solid. There was a little bit of ham, a few moments that registered as awkward, but hey, it’s horror. Even the child acter did okay. The cast did a fine job and that’s all that matters.
There were also a lot of fun practical FX. That’s good, as often indies tend to ruin their movies by leaning hard on shit CGI. Mind you, we’re not talking FX the likes of 1982’s The Thing, but for what it was, it was solid. Inside this weird horror is a creature feature, and they made sure not to over showcase their cheeply made rubber monster. This means masterful use of light and filters to make the rubber monster suit look good on camera. This includes the full monster reveal which still has enough sense to shroud the rough edges in darkness.
So far as the plot is concerned, it’s actually quite brilliant, even if a bit simple. After all, simple is the name of the game when you’re on a shoestring budget. You have to go with what works and what fits. There’s already something about the deep American Bush that makes people feel like they’ve been transported to another dimension, another world, so it’s an easy and simple sell on the audience. It leaves a lot to question, but often the horror is in the not knowing. We know that once the protagonists get deep into the forest, shit just starts to get weird. It has a Lovecraftian lean that makes everything a little more insane. You may find yourself confused and shocked and loving every minute of it. It reminds me of Yellowbrickroad (2010), where the whole point is just people getting lost in the wood and insane shit starts to happen.
I can absolutely recommend The Stairs (2021). If you’re looking for solid weird horror or a creature feature, you’ll enjoy this.
I am a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a better connection between some of the weird shit that was happening and the final creature feature you end up with. It’s like two distinctly different movies. You start off by watching something a lot like Yellowbrickroad, but then it becomes a generic creature feature. There’s this woman who seems to be almost mutated by the weird goings-on, and her maggot baby, which is all well and good. And there even seems to be some kind of connection between the final creature and all of this. But they don’t clearly connect the two. The young character Jesse Kinda explains it, saying the “Grub Daddies,” our rubber monster, has to feed their children, and they’re always eating. So far, the only thing you’ve seen is the “Maggot Babby” which pops up more than once, including around the Grub Daddy. This seems to suggest that this is the larval stage of the Grub Daddy and the weird mutated woman is spawning them. They never really say it and they never really show it, but that’s the sense you get. I just wish they’d spent some time on developing this. It could’ve been pretty brutal to showcase a little Grub Daddy motherhood.
In the end, it was fun and interesting and weird and completely worth the $35 for me and my wife to see it at a fathom event. At some point, this will come out on Commit, or Tubi, or something like that, so keep an eye out for it. I highly recommend it.
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