Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Ghost Party Pictures and Co-Writer/Co-Director, Ian Hock (along with Trevor Dillon) for allowing me early access to an online screener of their 17 minute, Horror/Thriller film “Foxwood”. Foxwood picks up on Christmas night with two young adults, Claire and Nick (played by Kalen Marie George and Hock himself) meeting at a bar on a blind date. Some innocent flirting and a few too many drinks later, Nick ends up back at Claire’s place where the night takes a turn for the worse and he’s forced to fight for his life in the community of Foxwood. The film also stars Laura Peake.
I’d heard some positive rumblings about Foxwood through some of my go to sites for all things horror related (namely Matt Boiselle at DreadCentral), so I thought I best do some digging. The duo of Dillon and Hock are new to the scene, having only been involved in filmmaking for the last few years (Foxwood is in fact Trevor’s first writing credit), but if this project is anything to go by they’ll have a bright future in the industry. I’m always keen to check out new christmas themed horror films and Foxwood is one of those. The blind date element is fun and it sees Dillon and Hock add a personal touch to an otherwise familiar setting. DP, Nick Ramsey appears to have an extensive knowledge of framing and shot selection, supported by his years of working in the short film medium. There’s a great tracking shot to open Foxwood. An apprehensive Claire makes her way into the well-lit establishment, and following that, there’s a cool slow pan to reveal Nick sitting at the bar. Other highlights include the obligatory shot of a character upstairs looking out the window in desperation, as well as that 80’s inspired close up of the killer making their way down stairs with their weapon of choice, this time it’s an axe.
Ramsey still utilizes some effective movements throughout, such as turning the camera upright in one particular bedroom scene. The set design is simple with its christmas decorations and an abundance of lights, but even the style of house has that warm and homely feel about it, which sets the scene well. Paul Fonarev’s sound design is another thing of note in Foxwood. The audio track is clear and the foley is most effective with casual spikes when shot glasses come together, doors are swiftly opened and weapons scrape on surfaces. Andrew Scott Bell’s original synth score sneaks through with dark themes rather than your typical energetic patterns, it’s wonderful and quite reminiscent of something like “Final Destination”. It’s only in the latter stages of Foxwood that Bell taps into that lively and 80’s as all hell, synth tone. I dug it and it reminded me of slasher films like “The Prowler” and “Intruder”. Foxwood heads in an interesting and unforeseen direction during its short running time and I think fans of the genre, will at the very least, respect that.
The acting from all three cast members is serviceable, with Kalen being the strongest and Ian and Laura doing their bit. I thought Hock came across more natural and consistent in his delivery during the earlier part of the short. Whereas once the proverbial shit hits the fan, his reactions become rather forced and the urgency of the situation doesn’t quite translate from screen to the viewer. There’s a couple of moments where Dillon and Hock stretch the credibility as well. The key concern is a common one with these types of films and it comes once the situation escalates. Nick has the opportunity to grab a weapon to defend himself and unfortunately he chooses not to. Foxwood isn’t a fully satisfying experience because it does leave you to fill in a few too many blanks regarding the specifics, though I suppose that’s also an approach that can garner interest or demand for another entry or a full length feature down the track.
Foxwood is a fun and inventive horror short from a couple of new and fresh filmmakers with good ideas and an eye for polished aesthetics. Ramsey’s clever cinematography drives the high production value (that foreground/background reveal as Nick hides in the kitchen comes to mind), the lighting is perfectly moody and the sound design intentionally sharp. Bell’s original synth score just might be my favourite thing about Foxwood, and although the surprise climax might not be for everyone, you’ve still got to respect it. Hock’s acting does waiver a bit in the final act (though hindsight might suggest that’s not such a big deal) and Nick makes the rookie mistake of not grabbing a damn weapon to defend himself with! All in all though there’s a lot to like here, so I suggest you check out the teaser trailer and keep an eye out for Foxwood, coming soon!
My rating for “Foxwood” is 8/10