Film provides such vast opportunities for how stories can be shared. As a visual medium, stories can be as grounded or abstract as a storyteller likes, and the communication of that story can be equally linear or unconventional. But, at the end of the day, there still needs to be a point to a piece, even if that point is to just be a bit of distracting entertainment. Woodshock is about as abstract as fictional narratives come, but that abstraction seems to be the point rather than what the abstraction supposedly represents, resulting in a vapid, pointless time sink that doesn’t even rise to the level of enjoyable nonsense.
The narrative is so sleight that words like “plot” and “story” don’t even seem to apply. Kirsten Dunst stars as Theresa, a woman struggling with the death of her mother while she works at a medical marijuana dispensary. And… that’s honestly about it. Theresa doses herself with a potent cannabinoid that apparently dulls the pain of her loss, and there’s some drama about that cannabinoid possibly falling into the hands of some customers and killing them, but that is all so subsumed below the melodrama of watching Theresa mope around a house by herself that none of it feels consequential.
Visually, the film hopes to trick us into accepting hidden depths by playing with the editing in trippy and visually engaging ways. Snap cuts to other locations, extended shots of reflective glassware, and overlaying images atop one another are the orders of the day, but much as those images are illusions born of technical trickery, they don’t serve any definitive purpose. There’s a vague sense that Theresa’s angst is what is represented by the hazy spectacle on-screen, but the closest that comes to confirmation or affirmation is a revealed twist ending that means nothing because the preceding ninety minutes did nothing to build toward it.
There’s just nothing here to grasp on to, nothing to justify the images presented or their haphazard assembly or the time, money, and effort spent to put this together. It’s as if freshman directors Kate and Laura Mulleavy were literal freshmen film students, who know that they like the works of David Lynch and Lars von Trier but don’t understand how the abstractions of those auteurs relate to their explorations of theme. The point of abstraction is to invite conversation, and I don’t even think if I were as high as the Mulleavys’ protagonist I could venture a guess as to what point they were trying to make. Woodshock almost plays like an unintentional “say no to drugs” PSA, as the poison of pot has not only destroyed Theresa’s mind but her story’s narrative vessel as well. However, that web isn’t worth untangling when the film it’s wrapped in is so tediously drab and dull. If you say no to anything, say no to Woodshock.