“Woodshock” Is A Bloody, Permafry Vision of Rural California

It’s more fever dream than thriller.

Woodshock is a dark and dreamy ode to the Redwoods and the weird shit that happens in rural California. Kirsten Dunst stars as Theresa, a spacey medical dispensary employee who laces a few grams of shwaggy cannabis before rolling up a deadly joint for her terminally ill mother.

Theresa is no stranger to this spiked concoction—the film is interspersed with flashbacks of her stumbling through the woods in a silk nightgown. The pain of grieving her mother draws her toward a hallucinatory escape, and sober moments become fewer and further between. As Theresa's grip on reality loosens, flashes of her bloodied nightgown hint at violent highs ahead.

The film was co-wrote and co-directed by Laura and Kate Mulleavy, the sisters behind the wunderkind high-fashion label Rodarte. Shot throughout Humboldt County, the dreamlike forest scenes show the sisters' reverence for visual art and for their home state. Windows sparkling with coastal condensation cast distorted light on characters' grim expressions, and geometric shapes glide across the misty tree tops when Theresa exhales.

Aesthetics aside, time spent during lengthy shots of Dunst trailing her fingers around redwood trunks could've better served to flesh out the rest of the characters. It's more fever dream than thriller, but permafry has never looked prettier.

CRITIC'S RATING: 2/4 stars.

Woodshock is rated R and now playing at Fox Tower.

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