Fantasia ’21 Review – Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror

Kier-La Janisse’s folk horror documentary, Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror, clocks in at 3h14m. Perhaps this review is somewhat unnecessary – you probably already know if a 3hr+ folk horror doc is going to be for you! But just in case you’re unsure, it’s worth pointing that it front-loads its strongest material – with the excellent first hour focusing on British folk horror and its roots in the British psyche and national zeitgeist of the late-60s and 70s.

Later sections on America and then the rest of the world yield diminishing returns as the definition of ‘folk horror’ is gradually expanded to include any horror film based on folklore. Once this happens (particularly in the ‘worldwide’ section) the documentary starts to lose some of its focus. Surely if we count Finland’s The White Reindeer as a folk horror film we should similarly count pretty much every werewolf movie ever made?

But even as Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched starts to lose a little coherence, it still presents a smorgasbord of engrossing references and recommendations. Janisse’s labour-of-love documentary never less than fascinating, and a must-see for horror aficionados. Everyone will have different takeaways – my main one was that I really should get around to watching Jugface (Kinkle, 2013).

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror is available On Demand at Fantasia ’21.

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