People are going missing in Slender Valley. 25 people, to be exact, and in this 21 minute short film from Jodi Cooper and Victor Cooper, you’re going to find out why. A collaboration between Cooper Creation and Five Year Plan, and presented by Vantage Point Media House, The Woodsmen is a nostalgic monster movie that doesn’t wait very long to reel you in. It’s disturbing from the beginning. What starts as a routine search and rescue mission turns into a bloody disaster when two rangers take a group of volunteers into the wilderness to look for missing hikers. It’s a simple story, but it’s the execution of the plot that’s going to hit home with horror fans. The lead production team – comprised of writers/directors Jodi and Victor Cooper and producers Justin Bulman, Rob Howsam and Kirsten Wight-Howsam – put together a crew that effortlessly created a short film that is old-school without being outdated, clever without being too serious, and horrific without trying to go right to shock-and-awe. And the icing on the cake? You can find The Woodsmen, in full, at the bottom of this review!
It’s a shame that The Woodsmen has flown under the radar because, honestly, it’s a contender for one of the best monster movies of 2018. I mean, what more could you ask for? A quick build-up in intensity, above-average acting, beautiful cinematography from Rob Howsam and near-perfect editing from Victor Cooper, blood and guts, retro scores and a practically effects costume. It’s the perfect combination of horror film-making troupes that will draw in and entertain audiences from all generations and all subgenres. Then, when you put it against the scenic forest background, it also becomes a contender for awards on a more artistic level. Really, I’m struggling to find any criticisms here, and all I can find is that the audio needed a bit more work near the beginning when the younger park ranger is exiting his father’s vehicle. A lot of extra love, dedication and planning was put into The Woodsmen. It’s obvious, and for that reason alone it becomes a short film that deserves to be seen.
The Woodsmen stars Mackenzie Fisher, GianPaolo Lattanzio, Kirsten Wight-Howsam, Garret Harvey, Paul Massey, Sandra Wood and Victor Cooper as Bigfoot. As I mentioned above, all of the acting was great and every actor pulled in an honorable performance. At the same time, I couldn’t help but to feel neutral in regards to every character that appears on screen. I didn’t care what happened to them. Usually, I’d find my lack of interest in the canon fodder to be alarming, but in this case… I don’t know. I just feel like something magical took place, and I would watch The Woodsmen again and again despite my lack of connecting with the characters. It’s scary and effervescent all at the same time. The first 16 minutes is the Bigfoot title, and then there’s a five minute bonus segment that sets up a potential sequel. This added bonus reads like a Halloween version of The Sandlot and, again, pure movie magic was made. I don’t think I need to keep going at this point. I loved The Woodsmen and would recommend it to anyone looking for an awesome short film. Final Score: 8 out of 10.