Woe, is a tragic horror movie that follows Charlie Dennistoun one year after the death of his father as he experiences bizarre, terrifying phenomena.
This film is writer/director Matthew Goodhue’s feature length directorial debut, but you’d never guess it if I hadn’t just told you so myself. This horrifying tale of a man driven to the darkest recesses of his mind after the devastating suicide of his patriarch is gripping, nauseating, and truly frightening.
Charlie (Adam Halferty) has been living in his deceased father’s run-down home, repairing the place, or at least trying to. You see, whether it is due to Charlie’s apparently declining mental well-being, literal demons haunting the home, or some sort of bizarre timeloop, this poor man can’t seem to keep any work finished.
Perhaps the greatest example of this undoubtedly aggravating issue is the wasp’s nest mentioned in the trailer. Try and try as he might, every time Charlie destroyed the pest’s home, it returned shortly thereafter without fail. This motif of the unbreakable cycle is one that goes beyond the bizarre occurrences at Mr. Dennistoun’s home, permeating the entire story of Woe.
The film opens with Charlie burying a body, and while it’s unclear whose body it is, I would surmise that it represents the body of the father. Later in the film, as Charlie’s sister Betty (Jessica Rabideau) and her fiance Benjamin (Ryan Kattner) are driving off to start anew, once again we see a corpse wrapped in a bag.
WOE IS A SYMBOLIC, HIGH CONCEPT PSYCHOLOGICAL HORROR
Death haunts the characters in this movie relentlessly and without mercy. The death of the head of the family clearly had devastating effects on Charlie and Betty, as evident in Charlie’s case through antisocial behavior and possible hallucinations. Other characters, both major and minor, lose their lives throughout the film, adding to the immense weight of loss already on the shoulders of Charlie, Betty and Benjamin.
While the exact details and specifics of Woe are not always presented in a straightforward manner, the message seems rather clear in my eyes. Matthew Goodhue is telling a ghost story about the devastating power of “woe”.
The loss of a loved one, especially to something as tragic as suicide, can completely alter the course of an individual’s life. Patriarchal relationships can be so integral to one’s life that the loss of that paternal figure can have devastating effects, like it did on Charlie. After losing his dad, Charlie gave up on the world outside his father’s land, and consequently, he gave up on loved ones that cared for him.
The darkness that consumed Charlie began to manifest itself through shadowy, red-eyed figures and tasks that never seemed to stay complete. Charlie had no positive outlet, no one he would turn to, and no way to cope with the pain he was surely enduring. All of that negativity, bottled up inside, surely began to poison Charlie’s thoughts and emotions.
WOE EXAMINES THE HORRIBLE POWER OF GRIEF
No one in this film ever really opens up with one another in a meaningful way. While they interact with each other, these characters never really share their honest thoughts and emotions with each other. I believe that the evil consuming the town and the family is a representation of that isolation, that unwillingness to let anyone get close.
What I took away from Woe is a message about the importance of true community and companionship in times of grief. If Betty had truly been there for Charlie, or if Charlie had been willing to have a healthy relationship with Benjamin, perhaps things would have worked out more pleasantly in the end.
Should we wish to avoid the horrifying spectres of loneliness in times of loss, we need the support of our neighbors. If you know someone who has lost a loved one, be there for them. Be there for them with every ounce of energy you can spare, and let them know that they are not alone.
Getting off of my soapbox, I would like to commend Matthew Goodhue on the work he’s done with Woe. The arthouse horror picture may not be perfect, but it is a remarkably spooky, creative film from a very talented, relatively fresh cast and crew. If you want to indulge in an hour and a half of thought-provoking, unsettling and dreadful (in a good way), I would highly recommend Woe.
Woe is available on DVD and VOD now. What did you think of the new horror film? Let us know in the comment section below or over on our social media!