Hidden In The Woods is a bleak bastard of a film. A bleak, bloody, half-retarded bastard of a film. While definitely not for everyone, director Patricio Valladares has crafted a modern exploitation film that fans of the grimy side of cinema will surely love to get filthy with. It’s a twisted hybrid of rape/revenge, backwoods horror and crime film (with a pinch of cannibalism for flavor), but I would never ghettoize it into any one of those categories, because none of those descriptions of its parts do the film justice as a whole.
The plot centers around Filipe, played brilliantly by Daniel Antivilo, who I would love to see star in a modern remake of a Naschy Hombre Lobo film. Filipe is a drug smuggler, a father and a complete piece of shit. When not busy stashing drugs for local crime boss Uncle Costello, he’s made it a habit of getting drunk and raping his young daughters, Anna and Annie. A habit that starts when Ana is very, very young and continues for years, even after she gives birth to her deformed brother-son Manuel. Upon Manuel’s birth Filipe immediately locks him away in a shed behind the house where he lives like a dog until one day, years later, when the police show up to investigate a tip they receive about domestic abuse. The police are able to free the children from Filipe’s evil hillbilly clutches, but aren’t as lucky themselves as we’re treated to a demonstration of Filipe’s chainsaw skills.
While dad is acting like the Chilean Leatherface, the kids escape and decide to hold up in their family’s cabin in the woods in a nearby town. After the cop slaughter, Filipe reaches out to Costello for help, only to be caught and thrown in jail. This makes Costello send his crew out to find the drugs that Filipe had stashed at his house. This is also the point where the film turns into complete whoresploitation for a bit, as Anna heads into town to find food for her siblings and is propositioned by a creep on the street while she’s trying to enjoy an apple from a trash bag. This is where we learn the harsh truth that every man in Chile is a super rapey creep.
Anna quickly realizes that there’s money to be made and proceeds to blow every willing guy in town. But while she’s out doing that , Filipe is making plans of getting his kids back, a couple of backpackers stumble upon the cabin where Anny and Manuel are hiding out, and Costello’s crew is on the hunt for the drugs, or whoever might have them. Hidden In The Woods takes a lot of twists and turns in the second half, and just when you think it can’t get any more fucked up it does. The violence is amped up in the third act and we witness some absolutely great moments of brutality, the most impressive of which involving Anny and the feral Manuel, and learn of some strange eating habits the kids have developed over the years. These scenes also bring the audience back to the state of unrest that we start the film with but is lost a bit during Anna’s blowjob spree in town.
Hidden In The Woods is the story of a family, who as fucked up as they are, are willing to go to great extremes to protect their own. It is also an experiment in how much filth and degradation one audience can handle in 98 minutes. Besides the three kids, every character in this film is a despicable piece of trash (and honestly, the kids aren’t THAT much better.) I know I make light of it here, but believe me there’s nothing funny about this film. It’s dark, it’s dirty and it’s also one of the better films in the genre that’s been released this year. If pure, unadulterated exploitation is your bag, definitely check this out. If you have a sensitive tummy when it comes to these things you may want to sit this one out.
Hidden In The Woods hits streets 9/24 via the ever-impressive Artsploitation label. It is available on DVD and VOD through Amazon and VHX. It will not be available on iTunes due to its graphic content… and because iTunes are pussies.
Score: 3.5 out of 5 Screaming Jamies