Fantasia 2021 Capsule Review: Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched

For my first Fantasia Film Festival coverage this year, I decided to dive into the highly anticipated documentary Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror. This stunning examination of the folk horror subgenre is written and directed by Kier-La Janisse, founder of international horror school, The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies. The documentary is broken into six chapters, each one examining different trends, eras, and geographic areas where folk horror films have been prevalent. Janisse interweaves scenes from the numerous folk horror films mentioned along with interviews from writers, directors, actors, historians, and more. Not only will this documentary give you an incredibly comprehensive look at folk horror films, but it will also likely introduce you to a number of films you’ve never even heard of to add to your watch list.

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror is so informative, but I will also warn viewers that it is quite long at about 3 hours and 12 minutes. It’s long, but there is so much rich information that it never feels like the filmmaker is relying on filler. What I especially love about this documentary is that it takes a much more academic approach compared to any other horror documentary I’ve ever seen. Each “chapter” of the film takes a look at the different trends in folk horror and how they relate to what was going on in the world at that time, helping to contextualize the changes in the subgenre over time. It’s clear that the filmmakers behind this documentary took great care in creating something viewers can truly learn from, making it a must-see at Fantasia Film Festival 2021.

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror is a documentary that expertly balances education and entertainment.

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