Review by Mark Merrell
Nestled in Northeast Italy, sits the intimate village of Croce De Fussa. The town plays host to Krampus, a winter festival, held annually on December 5th. Villagers dress in costumes to resemble the devil. The custom belief is that the devil is coming to take away kids that have been bad, but that Saint Nicholas scares the devil away. Several children have reportedly gone missing during this event, never to be seen or heard from again.
The parade of sorts takes place in 2010 at night. A father, Manuel Conci (ACAB-All Cops Are Bastards, Different From Whom) is drinking heavily and partying with his friends. He has his four year old child with him, Tommi (Alessandro Corabi). Understandably, Tommi is freaked out by all the scary participants in the parade. He runs to his dad, and asks if they can leave now. His dad pushes Tommi down. Tommi runs down the road out of town towards home, but wanders off of the road, and becomes lost in the huge forest, with snow covering the ground. After walking aimlessly, he comes across a home with light shining from the windows, and wisps of smoke emanating from the chimney.
The scene cuts, as we see police and Tommi’s dad frantically searching the town and woods for Tommi, but to no avail. The film speeds up, showing segments of newscasts as well as print media, as they role progressively forward five years. We find out that during that time, Manuel was accused of killing his missing child, but, because no body was found, the charges were dropped. Also, as time has moved forward, Manuel and his wife, Tommi’s mother Linda (Camilla Filippi, The Best of Youth, La vita che vorrei) have drifted apart, torn by the loss of their son.
Two construction workers happen upon a darkened and reclusive culvert. They find a young boy, homeless, living there. The police in Corce are alerted, as the boy’s description is similar to the missing boy in their town and presumed dead, Tommi.
Linda rushes to the police station where she is told that a DNA test was done, and that the newly found nine year old boy matches the DNA of Tommi, her lost child.
Linda cries, and kneeling down, she looks at the boy lovingly. She tries to hug him, but he pulls away. When they get home, they notice that the family dog is barking incessantly at them. This seems very unusual to Linda, as the dog had an affection for Tommi previously. Manuel, had left his phone in his work truck, missing the earlier call. He comes home after hearing the message, and sees his son for the first time in five years. His eyes fill with tears, and he wants to hug Tommi, but the child is a bit indifferent, and goes instead to his room. Manuel shrugs this off, knowing the boy has lived on the streets for the past five years. Linda, on the other hand, doesn’t believe that the young boy is her lost son. She says he doesn’t look or smell like him, among other clues.
The film’s Director, Stefano Lodovichi (Aquadro, Dueditre) takes us on a journey of terror. The story interlocks characters, and, at times, it does not feel that way, but it all comes together in a terrifying package. Lodovichi utilizes the beauty of area in several establishing shots, adding to the contrasting feel of the movie. Co-written by Isabella Aguilar (Ten Winters, Grand Hotel), Davide Orsini (Aquado, Claustrophonia), and Lodovichi, they plant their seed of doubt about the newly found child, as Manuel continues to defend him, wondering why others, including his wife are struggling to believe in their sons identity. Deep In The Wood is certainly entertaining, and a thriller to the end.
The unnerving Deep in the Wood premieres on Demand June 13 from Uncork’d Entertainment.