An overly inquisitive mail carrier finds something unusual at a rural house only to be pulled to his doom by something unseen. Sounds like the start of a backwoods slasher film, and it is. Only this one, Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight was made in Poland and billed as the first Polish slasher movie. Poland is a country known more for its art films than for its horror movies. Is their first attempt and slice and dice a promising start or just another bad Polish joke?
Welcome to Camp Adrenaline, where technology addicted teens are sent to learn how to have fun offline whether they want to or not. After drawing numbers to chose groups Zosia (Julia Wieniawa-Narkiewicz), Julek (Michal Lupa), Aniela (Wiktoria Gasiewska), Bartek (Stanislaw Cywka) and Daniel (Sebastian Dela) find themselves in Iza’s (Gabriela Muskala) group. And on a three-day hike in the woods.
After the first night in the woods, they wake to find that Daniel is missing. They split up to find him. And we all know what that leads to, don’t we?
Right from the intro Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight wears its 80s influences proudly. The group of hikers consists of a jock, a fat kid, a hot girl, a weird girl, and a pot-smoking wiseass. One of them can tell you which rule for surviving a horror movie you’re breaking at any given moment. Another has a terrible secret in their past. You get the idea.
That’s also about all the backstory we get about any of them. One character turns out to be gay, but that feels more like a plot device than actual characterization. Of course with such thin characterizations, we don’t have a reason to care when they die. But I doubt the filmmakers cared about that. It’s all about the gore and the jump scares.
Director Bartosz M. Kowalski and co-writers Jan Kwiecinski and Mirella Zaradkiewicz pit our heroes against a pair of huge, barely human-looking killers. The Color Out of Space inspired backstory for them, while making no sense at all, does add a touch of creativity to the story. And it’s not quite as out of place as the sci-fi twist in another current slasher, Redwood Massacre: Annihilation.
The rest of Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight is indeed very familiar. Bad behaviour like sex and drug use will get you killed. There’s the now obligatory camper in a sleeping bag versus a tree scene. Death due to mistaken identity, and lots of running around in the woods.
I was worried when the first two kills happened off-screen. Thankfully once it gets rolling the film delivers several good bits of practical gore. Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight is one of the gorier slashers to come out recently. I do wonder though how the killers learned to run a woodchipper or found that executioner’s axe.
The makeup for the killers is nicely done as well. They’re both huge in height and width and would be intimidating enough naturally. Combined with the makeup they resemble the kind of troll or ogre folklore says inhabits the forests of Europe. They certainly make effective villains.
While the end result is pretty much Friday the 13th takes a Wrong Turn it is all done with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight isn’t particularly scary but it is an enjoyable way to kill some time. It was released in its native Poland earlier this year and is now available on Netflix in multiple countries. There are options for subtitles dubbing in several languages.