In the Deep Woods (1992 TVM)

US / 95 minutes / color / Frederic Golchan Productions, Leonard Hill Films, NBC Dir: Charles Correll Pr: Frederic Golchan Scr: Robert Nathan, Robert Rosenblum Story: In the Deep Woods (1989) by Nicholas Condé (i.e., Robert Nathan and Robert Rosenblum) Cine: James Glennon Cast: Rosanna Arquette, Anthony Perkins, Will Patton, D.W. Moffett, Chris Rydell, Amy Ryan, Beth Broderick, Harold Sylvester, Kimberly Beck, Donalee Wood, Mary Gregory, David Grant Wright, Greg Kean, Steve Tom.

The sadistic Deep Woods Killer—”Woodsie,” as the cops call him—abducts successful young career women into remote wooded locations and tortures them before murdering them. Successful young author/illustrator Joanna Warren (Arquette) is as terrified as anyone else in the area, especially after her friend Jeanne Donaldson (Wood) becomes the latest victim, but she has other things on her mind—not least that it appears she’s being stalked by a creepy elderly guy, Paul Miller (Perkins), who tells her he’s a PI investigating the killings but whose story doesn’t check out.

Rosanna Arquette as Joanna Warren.

And then there’s the fact that Joanna’s gotten herself a new boyfriend, Frank McCarry (Moffett), an employee of her brother Tommy (Rydell), and, despite Tommy’s warning that Frank is the office lothario, she thinks that this time it could be the real thing . . .

D.W. Moffett as Frank McCarry.

Anthony Perkins, whose last screen role this was, is magnificent as the sinister-seeming PI—he was a master of this sort of creepiness, in the same way that Will Patton, as Eric Gaines, the cop leading the federal task force hunting the killer, is a master of sleazy oleageny; in fact, Patton does this act so effectively here, complete with inappropriate attempts to smarm his way into Joanna’s, um, affections, that we spend much of the running-time wondering if Gaines himself could be the Deep Woods Killer—if In the Deep Woods is going to deploy the weariest twist of all, where the cop turns out to be the psycho.

Anthony Perkins as the enigmatic Paul Miller

Will Patton as Eric Gaines.

There’s some clever manipulation of our suspicions, especially after the PI, Paul Miller, spells out to Joanna—in stages—his real motivation for trying to get close to her. I’m not certain this motivation makes a whole hell of a lot of sense (the killer’s never going to make a mistake, so the only way to nail him is through coaxing a confession out of him, and Joanna’s the gal to do the coaxing), but it does make more sense than the Deep Woods Killer’s own motivation, which emerges during a sort of extended denouement during which the plot crumbles into a pile of implausibilities and general shambles. (You think the cops would happily let an unknown civilian wander around the scene of a multiple homicide they’re investigating, even if she is the star of the movie? You do? Then I have a bridge to sell you.)

Chris Rydell as Tommy Warren.

Harold Sylvester as George Dunaway.

Kimberly Beck as Margo Jenner.

Rosanna Arquette makes a very appealing protagonist and a very convincing children’s author/illustrator. Among the rest of the cast, Kimberly Beck stands out as Joanna’s best friend, interior decorator Margo Jenner, and Harold Sylvester as Gaines’s sidekick, George Dunaway. With a good supporting cast, and with Arquette, Patton and especially Perkins at the top of their game, In the Deep Woods is a cut above most TV movies and indeed many theatrical features. Worth crossing the road for, if perhaps not crossing town for . . . depending on the size of the road and the town.

9 thoughts on “In the Deep Woods (1992 TVM)

  1. Well, if Anthony Perkins is involved, it’s got to be worth a look. Thanks, John, I shall keep an eye out for this…once I’ve worked my way through all the other interesting films you’ve added to my ‘watch’ list!

    • Perkins really is quite splendid here, Jacqui!

      I noticed you were talking else where about Mystery Road (which I watched and wrote about a while back, my account being slated for appearance here in due course). That movie has a sequel, Goldstone (2016), which I’m hoping to watch real soon now — like you, I was mightily impressed by the first one.

      For that sense of the wide-open spaces in Oz, Sweet Country (2017) is also worth a look. I watched that one too not so very long ago, but see that for some reason I didn’t write it up — can’t imagine why I didn’t. Oh, well: what a good excuse for a rewatch.

      • Thanks!

        Good to hear you’re a fan of Mystery Road, a brooding slow-burn of a film. I think you’ll like Goldstone, too, as it’s in a very similar vein – plus there’s an appearance by Jacki Weaver as an added bonus. I was lucky enough to see a preview screening introduced by the director, Ivan Sen, a couple of years ago. He talked about the potential for the development of Jay Swan’s character being a long-term thing. There’s also a tv series, which I have seen. Plenty of stuff to look forward to there.

  2. This movie sounded alot like the movie “Kiss the Girls” with Morgan Freeman. I have not seen the movie “In the deep woods” but most definitely would like to check it out seeing it’s like “Kiss the Girls” which I thought was a great movie with mystery, twists, brilliantly nail biting and leaving you wanting more and keeping you on the edge of your seat drama.

    • I too liked Kiss the Girls a great deal, and if anything I liked its sequel, Along Came a Spider, even better. I don’t know why the series wasn’t continued, because as far as I can gather they did reasonable box office. The critics were a bit sniffy about them, though.

      Beyond the fact that both movies are about serial killers, the resemblances between In the Deep Woods and Kiss the Girls aren’t all that strong. But if you liked Kiss the Girls you’ll probably like this one.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.