By JAMES TUCKER
Starring: Julia Wieniawa-Narkiewicz, Michal Lupa, Wiktoria Gasiewska
Directed by Bartosz M. Kowalski
Written by Bartosz M. Kowalski, Jan Kwiecinski, Mirella Zaradkiewicz
Produced by Akson Studio, Plan Zet
How is everyone doing? It’s been a hell of a couple weeks, hasn’t it? So crazy and packed full of monumental, life-altering shit that even I had to take a couple weeks off to deal with it. I hope you all had a Happy Halloween, and I hope none of you suffered heart attacks from watching the election results oscillate so wildly (god, Joe Moderate is already so much better than that orange, limp-turnip-dicked LOSER of a fascist).
But hey, we survived act two of the horror movie that is this year. So before we gear ourselves up for act three (anyone know how to spell coup?), it’s the perfect time to celebrate by watching a dumb slasher movie. And this time around, Netflix has just the thing for us.
Upon hearing the plot summary of NOBODY SLEEPS IN THE WOODS TONIGHT, I was terrified that I was in for another shallow, surface level critique of modern technology and the next generation’s obsession with it. Thankfully, the film is instead a shallow, surface level satire on a conservative response to modern technology and their attempts to suppress the supposed “alien” nature of the next generation; not the most well-executed, but much, much more tolerable. As our main characters are shipped off to a week-long camp (that’s treated more like an outdoor rehab center, in all honesty) they are greeted and harassed by a colorful cavalcade of characters, ranging from the overzealous camp director who gets off on the idea of making these kids stare at trees for a week, to the pervy priest who performs a phone exorcism on the kids, asking god to remove the demons of modern civilization from the group of confused and bemused teens. Our main characters are bound together by chance (And weirdly seem to, on their surface, resemble a tropey group of characters from a slasher movie. Huh. Strange.) and go on a week-long hike, when they come across a couple of mutant hillbilly twins who, one by one, make sure these kids never pick up a cell phone again.
“The film’s attempts at satire feel half-baked, and it’s slasher aspects feel generic with few notable exceptions.”
I have mixed feelings about this film. On the one hand, the film attempts to demonstrate that these characters are more than their labels or the apparent tropes they fit into: the jock character is a (one page, double-spaced) study on toxic masculinity, the nerd character is a closeted gay man (who still feels the need to throw homophobic slurs at others), and the hot girl who the men treat as a sex object has a brain and wants to find true love someday. I feel like this film wants to have typical slasher characters act outside of the expected mold to demonstrate that, yes, young adults are people too and all too often shoved into boxes that don’t fit them, but is only willing to do the absolute bare minimum to make that statement. The final girl has a trauma that sent her to this getaway/rehab camp, but it honestly doesn’t make much sense once it’s revealed; if anything, she should be sent somewhere where she can learn using technology is okay. And the nature of the kills often contradicts any attempted statement on the part of the film about its characters. Example: the hot girl gets a BIG, PHALLIC pipe shoved through the back of her head right after declaring she was her own person and was tired of being looked at as a sex object. Come the fuck on, man. And for a film that wants to be a satire on technology (which, given the tone it takes towards these conservative characters throughout it would be hard to read as anything else), it is interesting how many times characters get killed the second they come in close proximity to a phone. Or a phone rings in the general area. Or a phone exists within 20 square miles of the character. You get the picture.
Generally speaking, I thought the kills were alright, and one or two of the main characters were tolerable enough for me to care about their fates. The mutant monster men were pretty gnarly, conceptually, and I thought that their backstory was one of the most interesting, if ultimately irrelevant, things about the film. I say ultimately irrelevant because it didn’t add much, and for two farmboys mutated by alien sludge who lived off of deer their mom hunted for them and chucked in the basement (where she kept them) they were surprisingly flat, tame movie monsters. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but they felt generic, like you could copy-paste any other slasher monster into the film and the film would be no better or worse off for it.
This film isn’t winning any awards, least not from me. But hey, it’s like that sometimes down here in the Sematary. And it wasn’t a complete flop, despite half-assing literally everything from the messaging to the monsters. My advice? If you’re looking to watch a modern slasher with a sense of humor, NOBODY SLEEPS IN THE WOODS TONIGHT might be worth a shot. Just turn your brain off, pretend it isn’t trying to say anything at all, and watch the scary play-dough boys kill some dumbass kids.
I’m giving this one a 5. If you’re looking for something better to watch, HIS HOUSE is on there. (That one’s a ten. Just sayin.)