Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror on Shudder is a new documentary about folk horror in movies. And yes, the title is quite a mouthful but so is the subject which should have been a series. Read our full documentary review here!

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror is a new Shudder documentary about folk horror in movies. It’s one hell of a long title, which matches the more than three-hour-long runtime.

This documentary film really should have been divided into episodes and released as a series. Fortunately, the documentary is actually divided into six segments (or chapters, if you will). In that sense, you do have chances for natural pauses.

Continue reading our Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror documentary review below and find it on Shudder.

The folk horror phenomenon

If you enjoy doing a deep dive into horror niches, then Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror should be perfect for you. Sure, the title is quite a mouthful but so is the subject of folk horror.

Even in ways I didn’t even necessarily realize but now fully recognize. Folk horror is present in most horror movies in some sense if you look for it.

Overall, this Shudder horror genre documentary is deliciously nerdy and very fascinating. Still, it should have been a series, so it would have been easier to digest. Three hours is a long time to stay hooked on this one subject with no breaks.

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror – Shudder Review

More than 100 films and over 50 interviewees

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror does an impressive job of exploring the folk horror phenomenon in movies. All the way up to present movies like Midsommar (2019) which is also in this documentary.

We begin, very naturally, with a trilogy of films: Michael Reeves’ Witchfinder General (1968), Piers Haggard’s Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971), and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man (1973). If nothing else, then the latter should be familiar to most due to the fairly recent remake (from 2006) starring Nicolas Cage.

Horror filmmakers interviewed for this documentary include Alice Lowe (Prevenge), and Robert Eggers (The Witch), to name just a few of current and upcoming filmmakers in our beloved genre.

However, what I also really enjoyed was how it dove into the more international angle. Looking at folk horror in Asian and Australian movies as well. I mean, there is an HBO Asia horror anthology titled Folklore because it is indeed a very international horror phenomenon.

Watch Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched on Shudder now!

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror was made by documentary director Kier-La Janisse. She is also one of the people being interviewed in this documentary. For obvious reasons, since she is an expert on the subject in her own right.

Kier-La Janisse founded the international horror school The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies. Plus, she has written a few books including “House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films”. And yes, very long titles seem to be her thing.

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched is her first feature film as director and producer. Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror is a Shudder Exclusive. It also feels like the perfect platform for its release.

Overall, I really enjoyed the fact that both directors, actors, and everyone else involved with folk horror storytelling, in all its forms, were part of this Shudder documentary. If you enjoy learning more about the history of horror storytelling and horror movies, then do not miss out on this one.

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror premieres exclusively on Shudder on January 10, 2022.

Details

Director: Kier-La Janisse
Stars: Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer, Piers Haggard, Lawrence Gordon Clark, Robert Eggers, Jonathan Rigby, Adam Scovell, Andy Paciorek, Howard David Ingham, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Kat Ellinger, Maisha Wester, Robin Hardy, Anthony Shaffer, Alice Lowe, Kevin Kölsch

Plot

From writer/director/co-producer Kier-La Janisse comes “a seductive mega-text” (Indiewire) through the history of folk horror, featuring clips from over 200 films and interviews with more than 50 filmmakers, authors and scholars that explore the rural roots, occult creeds and cultural lore that continue to shape international cinema.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina