• Woodshock

    Released by: Lionsgate Entertainment
    Released on: November 28th, 2017.
    Director: Kate Mulleavy, Laura Mulleavy
    Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Pilou Asbaek, Joe Cole, Jack Kilmer
    Year: 2017
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    The Movie:

    The feature length debut of co-writers/co-directors Kate and Laura Mulleavy, both of whom worked as costume designers on Darren Aronofky’s Black Swan in 2010, Woodshock opens with a scene where a woman named Theresa (Kirsten Dunst) rolls a joint. She heads into a bedroom, hands it to her terminally ill mother (Susan Traylor), and lies with her while the older woman indulges. It isn’t long after this that her mother has passed away, leaving the house to Theresa and her husband Nick (Joe Cole), who works at a nearby lumber yard.

    As Nick spends more time away from home, Theresa gets closer to Keith (Pilou Asbaek), the man who runs the medical marijuana dispensary where she was getting her mother’s cannabis. Before long, she’s smoking an experimental strain of weed herself, in hopes that it will alleviate her grief. Instead, Theresa starts to become paranoid, experiencing strange hallucinations and getting up to odd jobs around the house, like building a partially finished fence outside that she can’t remember ever building. Her relationship with Nick starts to grow increasingly sour as Theresa’s paranoia increases, leading to an inevitably dire but wholly appropriate conclusion.

    Performances here are strong. Cole is quite good as Theresa’s increasingly distant husband. He looks the part and fits the role well, he’s convincing. Pilou Asbaek is also fine as the man who is essentially Theresa’s pusher. Without spoiling the last bit of the picture, it’s interesting to see how his part evolves. Really though, the star of the show is Dunst. She’s able to look beautiful and completely defeated at the same time, portraying her character’s confusion and disenchantment with her surroundings with a surprisingly amount of realism. She’s excellent in this part.

    It might not be surprising, given that the Mulleavy sisters come from a fashion design background, that Woodshock is an absolutely beautiful looking film. The movie is ripe with impressive visuals and sometimes very striking, unforgettable images. The use of color in the film is excellent and adds to the hallucinatory nature of certain scenes, and the scenes in which a dazed and confused Dunst wanders amongst the Redwood Forest have an otherworldly quality to them that goes a long way towards pulling us into the story.

    Unfortunately, that story is lacking. The pacing of this film is slow, very deliberate – and that’s fine, but in between the opening twenty-minutes that sets everything up and the last twenty-minutes where it all comes crumbling down we’re left with a solid hour of little more than those aforementioned visuals. Those in the right frame of mind might enjoy getting lost in the film’s heady vibe, but if it’s narrative propulsion that you’re after you might be disappointed unless the idea of watching a stoned Dunst scouring her apartment top to bottom for… something appeals to you.


    Lionsgate brings Woodshock to Blu-ray framed at 2.35.1 in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer that looks very good, so long as you keep in mind the fact that a lot of the movie uses some specific soft-focus photography. As the picture was shot digitally there are no problems to note with any print damage. The movie is given a decent bit rate and as such, there are no compression artifacts to note. Color reproduction is excellent and black levels are nice and solid. Skin tones look lifelike and natural and there are no noticeable issues with any edge enhancement or noise reduction here to complain about. Detail is generally quite good but again, the movie is soft and intentionally so and as such, some scenes are a bit hazier than others. Within the context of the story being told, however, it works quite nicely.

    The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, which features optional English or Spanish subtitles, is solid. Surround activity is noticeable and appreciated during the more active moments in the film but much of the quieter parts focus the mix towards the front. Regardless, the audio quality here is just fine. Dialogue is crisp and clear, the music sounds nice and everything is properly balanced. As you’d expect from a new feature such as this, there are no noticeable problems with even a trace of hiss or distortion.

    The only extra of any substance on the disc is a thirteen-minute featurette in which co-directors/co-writers Kate and Laura Mulleavy are interviewed. They discuss working with Dunst and some of the other cast members but the focus of this piece is on the visual storytelling techniques employed in the film.

    Aside from that, the disc includes trailers for a few other Lionsgate properties (but not trailer for the feature itself), animated menus and chapter selection. Inside the Blu-ray case is an insert card for a Digital HD version of the movie. The case itself fits inside a cardboard slipcover with matching cover art.

    The Final Word:

    Woodshock comes up noticeably short in the story department but makes up for it with some hypnotic visuals and fine performances. Had the pacing and plotting been stronger, this would have been excellent – as it stands now, the film is interesting enough to warrant a viewing, so long as you go into it with the right expectations. Lionsgate’s Blu-ray looks and sounds very nice but is a bit light on extras.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!