Theresa (Kirsten Dunst) provides her terminally-ill mother with a cannibis joint laced with poison, allowing her to commit assisted suicide. After her mother’s death, she inherits her home in rural Northern California. Theresa’s boyfriend, Nick, wants her to move elsewhere with him, but she insists on staying in her mother’s house. Theresa returns to her job at a cannabis dispensary owned by her friend Keith, but is noticeably withdrawn. She attends a house party with Keith, and talks with Johnny, a mutual friend who is younger than both of them.
One day while Theresa is working, a sick elderly man, Ed, comes into the shop to pick up the same poison-laced cannabis Theresa administered to her mother. Theresa gives him the cannabis and he leaves; aware that he is using it to commit suicide, Theresa experiences an emotional breakdown. Ed returns later in the evening, informing Theresa and Keith that the drug failed to work. In the middle of the night, Theresa receives a phone call from Keith. She meets him at a carwash, where he tells her that Johnny has died, and accuses her of accidentally selling Johnny the poison-laced cannabis intended for Ed.
Her grief now compounded by guilt, Theresa’s emotional state becomes increasingly fragile, and she begins retreating to the surrounding woods for hours at a time, causing strain on her relationship with Nick. Contemplating suicide, she prepares five individual joints laced with the poison, but at first cannot bring herself to smoke them.
Later that night, she goes into the woods and works up the nerve to smoke one of the joints, but it does not kill her; she awakens the next morning with scratches on her legs. She smokes a second joint in the morning, and has visions of herself walking through the wilderness. Later, she smokes the third joint, which induces powerful hallucinations, but does not kill her. When she returns to consciousness, she finds that she has dismantled a wooden fence outside the house, but has no recollection of doing so.
Later that night, Theresa meets with Keith at a local bar, and smokes a fourth joint. After, she drives to Ed’s house and confesses to him how she inadvertently killed Johnny. After telling him the news, Ed dies in front of her. Upon returning home, she gets into a fight with Nick when she refuses to tell him where she has been.
She eventually leaves and walks to Keith’s house, visibly ill and vomiting. Keith, who perceives Theresa’s guilt over the deaths of her mother and Johnny, suggests she confide in Nick. Theresa refutes the idea, and Keith threatens to call Nick on the phone. Theresa begins burning her fingertips on a hot clothes iron that Keith has left on. When he attempts to stop her, she attacks him, burning his face with the iron, and then beats him over the head with it numerous times, killing him.
Woodshock is a 2017 American psychological horror drama film written and directed by Kate and Laura Mulleavy, in their directorial debut. It stars Kirsten Dunst, Joe Cole, and Pilou Asbæk. The plot follows a woman who, reeling after the loss of her mother, begins to cope by using a powerful substance which has hallucinogenic, violent repercussions.
Inspired by the Redwood forests of Northern California, the Mulleavy sisters co-wrote the script for the film over the course of two years. Woodshock was filmed on location in Humboldt County, California in the summer of 2015. Kirsten Dunst, who prepared for the role over the course of a year, also served as the film’s executive producer. The film had its world premiere at the 74th Venice International Film Festival, before receiving a limited release in the United States on September 22, 2017, by A24.
Filming began on June 29, 2015 in Eureka, California and surrounding Humboldt County. Dunst described the shooting process as “very quiet, but very emotional.” For the sequence in which Theresa levitates in the forest, Dunst was physically lifted in a harness 100 feet (30 m) above the ground toward the tree canopy.”Nobody gets to see these trees in the way I got to see them,” she recalled, calling it one of the “most incredible” experiences she’d ever had. The film was exclusively shot on camera, aside from one sequence in which Theresa’s home appears to float, which was completed in post-production.
The film opened on a total of three screens in Los Angeles and New York City, grossing $15,908 over the following week. On September 29, 2017, the film expanded to 39 theaters across the United States, and earned approximately $23,811 between September 29 and October 5, averaging $611 per theater. For the week of October 6–13, the film screened at a total of 9 theaters, earning an additional $2,884 before concluding its theatrical run. Over its three-week theatrical release, the film grossed a total of $42,603. On November 23, 2017, it received a theatrical release in Portugal, where it earned USD$689 in its opening weekend.
Directed by: Kate Mulleavy, Laura Mulleavy
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Joe Cole, Pilou Asbæk, Steph DuVall, Jack Kilmer, Susan Traylor, Joel McCoy, Michael Pavlicek, Joseph Wray Barney, Kyler Jude Hanson, Henry Pokorski, Damian Lund
Screenplay by: Kate Mulleavy, Laura Mulleavy
Production Design by: K.K. Barrett
Cinematography by: Peter Flinckenberg
Film Editing by: Dino Jonsater
Costume Design by: Kate Mulleavy, Laura Mulleavy, Christie Wittenborn
Set Decoration by: Florencia Martin
Art Direction by: Celine Diano
Music by: Peter Raeburn
MPAA Rating: R for drug use, language and a scene of violence.
Distributed by: A24 Films
Release Date: September 22, 2017