Horror has taught us several times over the years that going into a secluded area, especially in the woods, is probably the best way to sign your death warrant. It’s never a good thing… ever. There’s always going to be some person/creature/ghost or what something lurking around trying to kill you. Although I love these types of films, I’m rarely surprised anymore… that is, until I watched Arbor Demon.
Also known as Enclosure, Black Bear Studios‘ Arbor Demon was directed by Patrick Rea and co-written by him and Michelle Davidson. This film is not your average “in the woods” horror story. Arbor Demon delivers a rich storyline that offers more than just a scare or two and sports an amazing cast, including Fiona Dourif, Kevin Ryan, Jake Busey, and Rob Bouton. Although the IMDb rating is low, I have a feeling that’s because not enough people have seen this amazing film. Let’s change that, shall we?
“An adventurous woman (Dourif) with a secret from her husband (Ryan) insists the couple go camping to reconnect. Something in the woods wipes out a group of hunters nearby, preventing the couple from leaving their tent. Secrets and supernatural stories come to light, and they must determine if the real threat is inside or outside their enclosure.”
This movie starts out with a simple concept that turns into something far more disturbing. As I mentioned before, trapped in the woods by some evil creature or person has happened many times in horror movies, but Arbor Demon took it to a new level. As the film builds towards its climax, the tension and anticipation ratchet up like the turns of medieval thumbscrews, and when that band finally snaps you’re left with your mind blown and your jaw hanging open.
Arbor Demon is beautifully shot from beginning to end. The attention to detail is obvious from the get-go, and these crisp, little moments often give way to glamorous wide shots of the gorgeous scenic areas. I love it when filmmakers combine sweeping beauty with terror and destruction, showing that horror movies are far more than just blood, gore, and boob shots. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against these genre movie staples, but when stories like Arbor Demon are created, it shows a different, more in-depth side of horror.
All of the performances were phenomenal. The characters were raw and surreal, forcing the viewer to feel like they’re trapped in the movie with them. Fiona is the daughter of the legendary Brad Douriff and it’s not hard to see that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree when it comes to pure talent and dominating the screen. I’ve loved everything Fiona has been in so far, including True Blood, Safe, Curse of Chucky, and now Arbor Demon. Her transformation throughout the film, both physically and mentally, is outstanding. With ease and authenticity, Fiona created a character that must deal with this unreal situation while not understanding what is happening to her. She is the epitome of why Women in Horror Month is a such wonderful thing and a must to celebrate each February.
The supporting cast was just as talented. I’ve always loved Jake Busey and the character he plays is perfect for him. Without his witty and spineless behavior, Arbor Demon would have lost some of its momentum and clarity. Meanwhile, Kevin Ryan gives an outstanding performance as the devoted and protective husband. At first, his character’s intentions are unclear. Does he only care about himself and his own wants and desires? But when life puts him in a life or death situation, he shows his true colors and steps up to the plate as the loving husband who will do anything for his wife despite the horrible condition he was in. I don’t think this is the reconnection that this couple had in mind when they planned this trip, but the situation definitely challenged their relationship to the fullest.
Last but not least, I loved the mystery of the creature, the demon in the woods, which was well hidden until the very end. Even then I was left wondering what the hell just happened and wanting to know more about these mysterious creatures. A little bit of a mystery makes things more suspenseful and scary. We’re are always terrified of the unknown.
Arbor Demon is not an extremely bloody or gory film. It relies more on a well-told story, the mystery of the woods, and wonderful actors who deliver superb performances. I thought it had some pretty great twists that I didn’t expect and overall was pleasantly surprised. If you think you’ve seen your run of Creature In The Woods types of movies, give Arbor Demon a shot – you may just find yourself pleasantly surprised. You can rent Arbor Demon on Vimeo, YouTube, Amazon, and other streaming services. Let us know what you think in the comments!