Fantasia Fest 2021: Kier-La Janisse’s ‘Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched’ (2021): A Comprehensive, Immersive Look At Folk Horror – Movie Review

Author/editor/Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies founder Kier-La Janisse’s (From the Woods to the Cosmos: John Leman Riley on the History of Soviet Fantasy and Sci-Fi Film, Warped and Faded: Weird Wednesday and the Birth of the American Genre Film Archive) new documentary, Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched, is a fascinating, comprehensive look at the origins of folk horror. It features interviews from Kevin Kolsch (Starry Eyes), Dennis Widmyer, (Pet Semetary), Piers Haggard (Venom), and Abraham Castillo Flores.

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched is separated into six different sections, each exploring different trends, ideas, countries, and time periods. The film also looked at the idea that Paganism has a way of surviving, even though Christianity tries to destroy it. Many of them depict insular sects of people who cling to traditions that are bloody, mysterious, and ancient. It’s these qualities that attract us as viewers to these films in the first place. The greatest fear of these ancient groups is colonization, and this theme is universal.

Unlike many documentaries, this feels more meticulously researched and lovingly crafted than any film I have ever seen. The experts weighing in on the subject are not just filmmakers but also scholars. It makes for an intense and immersive experience. Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched runs long at over three hours and can feel a little slow and dry at times. I will say, however, that I now have a new list of movies to track down and see, thanks to the makers of this film! I cannot wait to get started.

Any and all film lovers need to check out this documentary, one that was made with the utmost care and appreciation for the medium.

About Christine Burnham

When not writing, Christine Burnham is watching TV, Horror films, reading, cooking, and spending time with her menagerie of animals.

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