Let’s sleep in the woods.
Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight appeared on Netflix shortly before Halloween and seems to have a minimal marketing campaign. Granted, I’m not always up to date, but I had heard nothing of this Polish horror film until it just popped up.
In the film, we follow a large (and then reduced) group of tech-addicted teens who are sent off to the Adrenaline camp to learn survival and social skills while being completely unplugged. Of course, there’s also a monstrous human lurking in the woods who has a taste for flesh.
The whole tech-addiction angle is an interesting way to get folks away from cellular service in a remote location. However, no matter what, this angle also smacks of old folks yelling at clouds. Yes, in my world students are on their phones too much, but this seems a little extreme. It doesn’t help that roughly the first quarter of the film is spent hammering home the tech issues, including fireside chats about addiction and crap.
The problem isn’t so much that we’re exploring these issues, it is that we actually aren’t. The conversations seem more focused on reminding the audience that some of these kids aren’t cut out for being in the woods or some generational gap rather than actually making a point. Coupled with how ill-prepared the teens seem for running around the woods, this camp seems like a liability more than anything else.
I suppose it does not matter as the only reason for any of this to exist is to get the teens into the woods to be murdered. The problem is that by the time we get through the needless exposition, sleezy shots that would make a 13-year-old cringe, and get to know our one-dimensional characters, the movie is a third of the way over. I didn’t care about any of these people, and the time spent with them felt inordinately long, which made their eventual transition into dangerous positions less impactful. The film relies on jump scares to ramp up the tension, which is unfortunate because we do get some nice tense shots.
I haven’t had to complain about music in a horror movie for a while, but damn does this one rear that old problem back into existence with a vengeance. I’m not sure if they’re going for hip, porn, or southern twang sound in the nearly relentless noise that sucks any and all tension out of every scene. This is supposed to be a movie about being unplugged and having no technology, yet we barely hear the woods. We get some crunching underfoot, but the crushing silence of being in the woods is entirely absent. Even if the film didn’t have a plethora of other issues, the music is a major annoyance.
Is a twist a twist when it is obvious? Not all horror movies need to be surprising, but this one seems to think it is cleverer than it is. I’m not sure if they were trying to make a comedy with a lot of the scenes or if it is just a misreading of what is meant to be scary. The scenes drag on for so long that the whole thing is a chore.
I hated this movie. Minor bits of goodwill given are beaten to death with a crushing run time, terrible music, pacing, and plot. If you’re desperate for a horror movie still skip this one.