Rootwood, A Satire On Indie Horror Filmmaking
Rootwood Film Details
Director: Marcel Walz
Release Date: TBA
Release Format: DVD VOD
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Running Time: 1h 23min
The students Jessica (Elissa Dowling) and William (Tyler Gallant) are hosting “The Spooky Hour”, a podcast about paranormal phenomena and urban legends. When they are hired by the Hollywood film producer Laura Benott (Felissa Rose) to produce a horror documentary about the curse of the wooden devil, they smell a chance to become famous. Together with their friend Erin (Sarah French) they enter Rootwood Forest and investigate the area to find out the truth about the wooden devil and his victims.
Back in May 2018, DecayMag received an exciting email from filmmaker Marcel Walz. At the time Walz’s upcoming feature film release, Rootwood was on the editing phase. Walz, according to IMDb has nineteen (19) film directorial credits. Yet, it is the successful crowdfunding campaign and subsequent reboot to Herschell Lewis Gordon’s 1963 film, Blood Feast that placed a spotlight on Walz.
In contrast with Blood Feast, Rootwood returns to original narrative content and brings together the collaboration between Walz and screenwriter Mario von Czapiewski. The duo had worked before, on the Horror, Mystery, Thriller Raw 3: The Revelation of Grete Müller released in 2015. Rootwood tells the story of two podcasters turned investigators trekking into the depth of a forest to document a supernatural phenomenon. While there are many films that adopt a similar plot this will be the second time Walz approaches this narrative. The synopsis to the 2013 release Raw: The Curse of Grete Müller almost parallels that of Rootwood.
Rootwood offers a hybrid of found footage and conventional filmmaking with an interesting social commentary on the film industry, in particular, independent Horror cinema. Rootwood does not have a release date yet but that has not stopped the production team in revving up the marketing campaign. Featured in this article are the official poster art and debut trailer both embedded above.
The plot for Rootwood takes a fascinating approach in its storyline, one that combines satire and a candid look into the film industry. This account may and/or will vibrate with crowds outside the sphere of independent content creators. Writer Mario von Czapiew does an excellent job of communicating a plausible stage to set the sequence of events into play. This sense of realism becomes a foundation and later transforms as the sub-plot. ACT I was designed well by properly introducing external conflicts and characters. Meanwhile, in ACT II the antagonist and its storyline felt long, but not drawn out. It is, however, compelling the see the entity evolve into an essential component in ACT III.
With its visual approach, Walz sets up a mock documentary inside a traditional formatted film. It was a refreshing approach from the director’s point of view to not invest in a found footage concept. A highlight to Rootwood was in adopting the forest as the principal backdrop. Not having a safety net of interior shots and/or shooting in a studio environment always enhances the production value. For instance, the audio quality in parallel with camera work featured in Rootwood is of high standards.
Yet, there were scenes that were dark from lack of light painting. In doing so it obscured the supernatural scares lurking within the abysmal forest. In terms of individuality, I found Rootwood its premise and direction to be all too familiar. Yet, Walz and von Czapiew included a distinction to their themed Horror story.
The performances were decent but when it reaches key scenes involving frights and conflicts the showcase falls short. Overall the on-screen chemistry presented in Rootwood does not exhibit peculiarities of a B-Movie style. The scarcity of emotion, when demanded, impacts how casual Horror audiences will interpret Rootwood as an intelligent supernatural thriller. As for enthusiasts of the genre, Rootwood has the likelihood to develop into a cult classic. With the practical effects, the creature concept is a strong candidate to becoming an iconic entrant to Horror cinema.
Rootwood is entertaining and a genius exploration of conflict within the independent film industry. Walz and von Czapiewski also provide an interesting social commentary on the digital age and the desperation of content creators finding that one big break of fame. The drawbacks, whether the team establishes it on key performance scenes or the repetition about the narrative does not hurt the overall production.
In closing, Rootwood could extend into a franchise this all balances on the production team. There are many areas to explore in this film, with one being the antagonist and its core story.