I was excited when I read the synopsis for MURDER IN THE WOODS – the new horror movie released nationwide on August 14. It has all the makings of a great slasher story, reminiscent of the ones I enjoyed when I was younger like Friday the 13th, Halloween and Sleepaway Camp which offered good, creepy, and sometimes corny, old-fashioned scares.
So, before I get into my thoughts, here’s the synopsis: “MURDER IN THE WOODS is centered on a group of college friends who plan a getaway to celebrate a birthday party at a desolate cabin in the woods. Against his grandmother’s (Soledad St. Hilaire) demands, Jesse (José Julián), a loner-type decides to go on a trip with his friends. He is immediately smitten with Fernanda (Jeanette Samano), a sweet girl from Chicago whom he hasn’t seen in years. She is in town visiting her loudmouth cousin, Chelsea (Chelsea Rendon), who is ready to celebrate her birthday and plans to let loose with her boyfriend Gabe (Jordan Diambrini). Tagging along at the last second are Jule (Kade Wise), the class clown pothead, and the very out-of-his-league Celeste (Catherine Toribio). Soon after arriving to the mysterious cabin in the woods, the group of teens discover the dark secret it holds, which forces them to fight for their lives.”
Sounds promising, right? But, unfortunately, it does not live up to the hype. What is great about the film is the multi-cultural, Latinx casting and according to writer and producer Yelyna De León the inclusion of, “cultural Latino references such as El Dia de los Muertos, The Chupacabras, and other stories that are recognizable.”
Now, like the slasher films of old, the story is formulaic and filled with young adult angst and sexuality. However, not one smart decision was made by any of the people being stalked the entire movie! And no I’m not exaggerrating, it’s like De Leon took all the plays from an old playbook except any of the ones involving common sense.
At least with old-school horror, when the bodies started piling up and people “knew,” *ish got serious really quick and folk attempted to “be out!” Not so in this film, as people were actually still trying to have sex! Where they do that at?
And MMT Fam, you know I try to stay away from spoilers, so I’ll do my best with this last bit…I hated the ending! Even with all the warnings overlooked throughout the film, the most obvious one is still forgotten at the very last minute?! I’m telling you, Stevie Wonder would see it coming!
Honestly, the film lost me before the second act even got going well, because it was just too obvious what was happening. I will say, the Scream/Prom Night influences – if the aforementioned obviousness was removed – could have elevated the film from corn to satisfactory popcorn flick, because they were actually quite decent.
Unfortunately, it was glaringly obvious and I was left high and dry. I rate the movie 1.5 out of 5 beats on the MMTrometer.
MURDER IN THE WOODS is out now (see drive-in and theater listings in above image) and will be released on Digital and VOD September 18. You can get additional details at the official website www.MurderInTheWoodsMovie.com.
Until next thought, Thomasena