Wake Wood opens with a happy family that is celebrating their daughter's birthday. Her father gives her a Gerbil for her birthday and she is so happy. She stops by her father's veterinary clinic to say hello and runs into a rabid dog. The poor little girl doesn't even have a chance to get away, the dog brutally attacks the girl and leaves the couple childless. Patrick and Louise decide to move to the small hamlet of Wake Wood to escape the pain of losing their only child. Wake Wood is dreary, cold, and damp and has some strange locals. The young couple settle in easily enough though. Patrick is the town Veterinarian and Louise opens her own Pharmacy.
While out for a drive late one night, Patrick's car breaks down and they end up walking to a local farm to look for help, where Louise unfortunately witnesses a Pagan ritual by the locals. You see, the town is secretly full of practicing Pagans. The Pagans have an ancient ritual that they use to bring back the recently deceased. Because they like the couple and want them to stay, they offer to bring back their little girl for them. However, there are some very important rules to the ceremony that must be followed exactly. First, they must agree to never leave Wake Wood. Second, the child must have died less than 12 months ago. Third, they only have 3 days and 3 days only to enjoy their daughter's company and say goodbye properly, before they have to bury her again.
There were quite a few moments that reminded me of Pet Sematary so I kept expecting the little girl to turn into a Zombie at any moment, but the character evolved into something even more evil than a simple Zombie. Sort of a cross between Pet Sematary and The Omen, the child came back evil and possessed. It reminded me more of an anthology from 1977 called Dead of Night where a woman uses an ancient ceremony to bring her son back from the dead. Instead of her son, she gets a demon who kills her and laughs while doing it.
Being a Mother myself, I found this movie heart wrenching. Watching an innocent little girl get attacked by a vicious dog and die was only the beginning. I couldn't help but feel sympathy for the couple watching them go through their grieving process. What lengths would any parent go to to bring back a small child that died a tragic and horrific death? Wake Wood has loads of atmosphere and slowly builds the suspense until there is a nice surprise twist at the end of the movie. It's a nice addition to the Hammer library of films, and worth a watch or two.