Don’t Go In The Woods Review

 There are two types of horror movies that are equally entertaining for different reasons: those that make you pee your pants with terror and those that make you pee your pants with laughter. Unfortunately, Don’t Go In The Woods is neither kind of horror movie; the film is both too serious to be funny and too bad to be scary. Overall, it’s a dull trip.

Don’t Go In The Woods, which will be screening at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, is a slasher musical about a budding band that goes on a camping trip in order to write new material for their up-and-coming demo CD. While it’s true that the film is filled with music, I consider it a stretch to call the film a musical. All music comes from the characters either writing new material for their demo or one of the girls wandering in the dark and modifying the demo song just written to fit their emotions or circumstance. While this later example is more akin to a musical, these songs serve no purpose in furthering the plot and are very brief, occurring only four times. Actually, it would be a stretch to call the film a slasher as well were it not for the final ten minutes. While the first two murders do occur just past the thirty minute mark, the characters do not become aware to the danger they face until the final ten. Even those first two murders feel late, considering the film is shorter than most Disney fare with a total running time of only 83 minutes.

While the camera work is better than expected, the gore effects, while only shown briefly, are classic B-slasher style: grisly, overblown, and theatrical. While some of the murder methods are appropriately silly, most of the victims are just bashed over the head with a mallet and then inexplicably dismembered, as body parts keep showing up at random moments in the film to remind the audience that something is indeed happening in this movie. The plot is where the movie falters the most, as there’s very little in the film beyond the cast sitting around a campfire and singing. The songs are good, sounding like some of the more emo fare you would hear on your local alternative rock station, but the fact that they take up most of the movie makes it feel like a VH1 “making-of” documentary tripped and spilled some slasher flick on its ironic t-shirt. Characters are one-dimensional and achieve little more than drinking, playing instruments, and having pseudo-sex for the entire film, activities which are only further bogged down by the flat performances of the actors. There is not much to say about the main character, other than at certain angles he looks suspiciously like Elijah Wood and has a propensity for smashing cellphones.

The monster of the film appears to be the Wendigo, a malevolent creature from Algonquin mythology, but this is poorly explained. An origin story of the Wendigo is given early on in the film and characters make several joking references to cannibalism throughout, but this is as to close an explanation for the murders that we get in the film. Coming from Ontario and a city that was formerly Algonquin territory, I’m familiar with the story of the Wendigo and how it feasts on human flesh or can posses humans who have resorted to cannibalism, a taboo in Algonquin society. Normally, the Wendigo seems like perfect horror movie fodder and I’ve always been surprised at the lack of attention it gets from the genre. However, I observed on my second viewing of the film that no reference to Wendigo possession is ever made in the film, a key element in making sense of the story, especially considering it is never explicitly stated why the murders happen.

In the end, while I would not be opposed to picking up a soundtrack of the original songs written for the movie, I would certainly never purchase the movie itself. The characters, plot, and action leave the audience wanting more and perhaps wishing they had just filled their need for a slasher musical with Repo! The Genetic Opera instead.


Rating: C-

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