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Film / Wake Wood

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A British horror film by the refinanced "Hammer Films" starring Aidan Gillen, Eva Birthistle, and Timothy Spall. It tells the story of a couple who, after losing their daughter to a crazed dog, learn that the small English town of Wake Wood, to which they moved, brims with pagan magic. After the death of one of the locals, an opportunity arises to revive their daughter, Alice, for three days. The ritual works and the parents are overjoyed, but something is very wrong with their returned daughter.

This film provides examples of:

  • Back from the Dead: Alice, and later on Louise. Both for only three days, though.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Alice is buried again, but Louise and Patrick still have to deal with their daughter being dead — and that's before Louise gets dragged into the afterlife for violating the terms of the ritual. Louise is eventually resurrected, now heavily pregnant, and says Alice misses her parents and wants them to have a girl. However, she has no memories of the afterlife, and what will happen next is left ambiguous; the last thing we see is Patrick laying out surgical tools...
  • Blood Magic: Part of the resurrection ritual requires living blood; Louise offers some of hers.
  • Body Motifs: The film has a lot of imagery associated with giving birth. Patrick gives a c-section at one point, and the resurrection ritual even looks like a birth scene; the latter part is lampshaded by Louise.
  • Broken Masquerade: Though Patrick and Louise try to hide from Alice the fact that she was dead and now alive again, Alice is shown to have brief visions of the resurrection ritual, implying that she knows what happened. On the final day, she even pleads with her parents not to send her back to the afterlife.
  • Came Back Wrong
  • Campbell Country
  • Chekhov's Gun: The windmills.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Patrick's ability to perform C-sections.
  • Closed Circle: Those who perform the resurrection spell are bound to the town and unable to go beyond its borders. What this means for the living is unclear, but is particularly painful to the dead, at least until they're brought back inside.
  • Creepy Child: Alice grows increasingly creepier as the three days go on.
  • Critical Existence Failure: If Alice steps outside of Wake Wood, her body begins to fall apart; the gashes that appear seem to be the same damage caused by the dog that mauled her before.
  • Death of a Child: What kicks off the whole plot.
  • Enfant Terrible: Alice, due to issues with her resurrection.
  • Equivalent Exchange: One recently deceased body must be used to bring one person back from the dead. The resurrected will also acquire some traits from the recycled body; in Alice's case, her resurrected body has the brown eyes of the man whose corpse was used, rather than their previously green color.
  • Genre Blindness: Patrick and Louise are given very specific rules about resurrecting their daughter which they willfully violate at every turn. Then there's the act of a husband and wife holding one another, sobbing with relief that the nightmare is finally over while standing directly on top of the shallow grave of the unstoppable undead abomination they just finished burying seconds before.
  • Kick the Dog: No animal that crosses Alice's path remains unscathed.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: A very intriguing example. Those who have been dead for less than a year will return to life exactly as they were for three days. They may show confusion and agitation by the third day but can easily be calmed by a special talisman/restraint and will return to the earth willingly. Those who have been dead longer appear normal but gradually grow homicidal. They possess superhuman strength, the ability to disrupt electricity, and are immune to the talismans.
  • The Place
  • Post Modern Magick: Modern machinery/construction equipment is used in the resurrection ritual; Arthur even comments that it wasn't like this before.
  • The Reveal: Patrick and Louise lied about Alice being dead for less than a year. Because of this, the resurrected Alice grows increasingly evil as the three days progress.
  • Rule of Three: The resurrected only have three days in the living world before they must return.
  • Taking You with Me: One way to interpret Alice pulling Louise down with her in the film's climax, especially if one notes that Alice seemed to make a comment about being "alone."
  • Tempting Fate: "If we have to lie, isn't it worth it?"
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Subverted. The villagers give every indication of being an evil small-town cult. It turns out they really do just want to help people see their dead loved ones again while doing their best to ensure the dead don't come back wrong.
  • Wham Line: "When's the baby coming?"
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Alice has the perfect opportunity to kill Arthur, but she doesn't.