The Woods, which premiered this week at Sundance, is a film about a band of revolutionaries living off the grid and Wi-ing away their time on a big screen TV plugged into a tree. They stuff their faces with products you would find in a Super Wal-Mart snack isle, like hot pockets, cheez-its and boxed juice concentrate.
Its a little like a contemporary Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, with all the technicolor flag defacing anti establishment antics of The Merry Pranksters, but instead of LSD, these kids are sucking down Yellow #5. (There are liters and liters of Mountain Dew. So extreme!)
The problems start when this band of Facebooking, Mountain Dew drinking slackers don’t take action to support their leaders’ lofty dreams of revolution. And that, according the Director and Writer Matthew Lessner, is the point of the story.
This snarky satire is Lessner’s rant about a generation looking for transformation but paralyzed by their dependence on entertainment and prepackaged foods. There is a sense that "we all want to do something, but we don't know how.”
Lessner explained to me that the story was in part inspired by the election of Obama- the way the population of the US invested all of their hope in one leader, only to be disappointed when he was didn’t live up to their projections of total deliverance.
The 80’s style technicolor Production Design, headed by Erin Staub and Art Directed by Chris Edley (who also acts in the film) speaks as loudly in creating this fantasy revolt as the monologues delivered by the fragile leader Daniel, played by Toby David, who ends the film with a dramatic diatribe of lost hope and failure as his “citizens” mutiny and destroy the camp.
The Woods was a project made possible by loving community support, and the first film backed by Kickstarter to be accepted at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s a notable accomplishment as Lessner’s first feature film.
If you fantasize about living off the grid somewhere in the Pacific NW, definitely go see The Woods.
Text and photos by Bek Andersen