Starring: Bo Boddie, Jorgen Jorgenson, Soomin Lee, Matt Sbeglia
‘Don’t Go In The Woods’ is not a remake, a reimagining, or indeed anything at all to do with the 1981 film of the same name. In fact, it is – wait for it – an emo slasher musical. Sadly, it doesn’t feature Gerard Way, Andy Biersack, or anyone else who has made this most lucrative of musical genres into a brand. Boo.
On paper, it all sounds like great fun; stupid scene kids, dancing around, singing “woe is me”-style songs, about not having enough disposable income to spend on glitter in Hot Topic, before being ruthlessly and bloodily murdered by some unknown, yet very welcome, assailant, for whom we can root entirely.
If someone ever chooses to make such a film, I’d be the first in line to see it, because trust me, ‘Don’t Go In The Woods’ isn’t it. It’s the complete opposite, in fact, and likely to be the least fun anybody has while watching a so-called slasher film.
That is, unless the viewer in question enjoys something terribly dull, that is masquerading as horror, but is actually about a band who sound a lot like Oasis, about whom it is impossible to care, having some sort of crisis, all in the glamorous setting of the, er, woods.
Leading the group is the rather horrid Nick (Matt Sbeglia), who is far too hardcore about the idea of escaping all distractions to make new music – he smashes everyone’s mobile phones at one point – not to mention that he is also one of the least charismatic screen presences, in horror, in a very long time. Matt Sbeglia is so dreadful, so incompetent, that he makes Trey Songz’s “performance” in last year’s ‘Texas Chainsaw 3D’ look Oscar-worthy.
Nick is utterly unlikable as a character, and it’s impossible not to root for his death, which is usually the joy of slashers anyway, but when it’s the main character, it stops being fun really quickly. Being the very cool leading man that he is, he reckons they all need to focus, but the others just want to drink and fuck chicks.
Speaking of which, about ten girls turn up at one point, and they stay for the entire film, but it’s impossible to tell how many, if any, survive. These girls are like a big load of peanut butter, stuck to the roof of the mouth of the film, but when they’re gone, it’s like they were never there in the first place. Their presence adds absolutely nothing, not even to the disappointingly low body count.
‘Don’t Go In The Woods’ is an exceptionally dreadful film, from the lazy direction, to the strange lighting, which makes it difficult to figure out what’s going on half the time, to the many, many, many songs that are delivered, with complete earnestness, by pretty much everyone with a mouth. There is just one, small moment of somebody being killed mid-verse, and it is not nearly enough to make any of this rubbish palatable.
Nick, in particular, seems to have gone to the Jared Leto school of singing, and opens his mouth weirdly as he forces the notes out, but he isn’t even the worst of the lot. The singing completely throws off any kind of tension that may have been created, and this is further compounded by the utter lack of kills until the last twenty minutes or so, during which the same clichés are trotted out, from a sleeping bag death à la ‘Friday The 13th’ to the usual, very dull, stab-happy nonsense for which the subgenre is infamous.
None of it is very new, fresh, exciting, or even particularly inventive. Director Vincent D’Onofrio shot the whole thing for $100,000, on his own land, with actors scouted, quite literally, from his local coffee shop, and man does it show. The premise is completely wasted; it could’ve been exploited to an incredibly fun, campy degree, with kills interspersed here and there to throw the audience off track. Instead, we’re treated to an hour of squabbling and singing, followed by about twenty minutes of lazily obvious kills.
As it is, ‘Don’t Go In The Woods’ simply doesn’t work as a slasher, or even a musical. It is seriously lacking in a sense of humour, unless one counts the never-ending jokes about a character’s blindness (har de har), which makes it quite mean-spirited, especially with the character of Nick at the fore, while the songs, though catchy, are repetitive and tiresome.
‘Don’t Go In The Woods’ had the potential to be fun, silly, and even quite scary with the right amount of imagination, but much like Nick, it just takes itself way too seriously. Not a slasher, nor a musical, but definitely very emo indeed.