Three grown brothers eke out an existence in rural Scotland, a place of both hard knocks and austere beauty. Living with no parents in a milieu populated with drugs, poverty and flashes of vivid and intense violence, theirs is a bleak life together. But the brothers do their best to look after one another despite their world of deprivation, bonded through love and squalor.
Their cloistered existence, however, is interrupted when a teenage girl, bloodied and beaten, turns up at their house. What the brothers choose to do both disrupts their collective self-containment and sends them on a series of destructive choices that threatens their very survival.
Director Jonny Blair has crafted a remarkable thriller that is both explosively paced and exquisitely acted, drawing in viewers not only through remarkably dynamic dramatic tension but compelling characters.
Captured with agile naturalistic camerawork, the drama is exciting and gripping, but the film also works as a group character portrait, examining the dynamics among three brothers who love and are fiercely loyal to one another, but also capable of destruction and danger, not only in the world but with themselves and one another.
There’s no question of their love for each other, and their scenes together are crafted with genuine intimacy and honesty. Despite their questionable morals and decisions, it’s this love that will make viewers engage and even hope for their redemption, as bleak as things may seem.
At 30 minutes, “Come Out of the Woods” is on the longer side of a short, but as the plot races forward, it certainly feels shorter than it is. Beyond its riveting tension, what lingers is a powerful examination of what it means to be family, in all its love, loyalty and dysfunction.