Starring: Julia Wieniawa-Narkiewicz, Michal Lupa, Wiktoria Gasiewska
In this down-to-basics approach to backwoods bodycounters hailing all the way from our Polish friends, a group from Camp Adrenalina are on a hike to teach their technology-addicted selves how to let go of their electronics and experience life's worth through nature. Unknown to them, at a house deep in the very same woods, a weary old woman was feeding raw meat to something in her cellar when one small slip sends her tumbling in and getting killed by who or whatever's been hidden away there, now free to roam the woods that night for more food.
Next morning comes and Daniel, the group's wannabe playboy, is nowhere to be seen after a round of bumpin' uglies with pretty girl Aniela the previous evening. The only clue to his fate is a bloodied tree trunk nearby, so guide Iza decides to tag along avid gamer Julek and mysteriously solemn Zosia to leg back at camp with her and find help, while Aniela and soft spoken queer Bartek are left behind in case Daniel shows up somehow. Of course, in par to these killer-in-the-woods type, this plan only trails to nothing but bloody fiascos as not one, but two huge, grossly bulbous cannibals are out there hunting and killing as many people as they can for good munchies and these hikers, along with a couple of random bystanders, could fill their bellies good for days...
As a backwoods slasher, Nobody Sleeps In The Woods Tonight is a serviceable little beast. The plot isn't anything new or grand despite its potential to exploit the backdrop of a technology-free camp detoxing its campers of internet and cellphone addiction, throwing this concept out no soon after it is introduced for a more standard kids-in-the-woods kind of story, but I will give it points for not overly complicating things and just keep it easy. Teens go to the woods, get attacked, survival happens, all standard in the core but welcome.
What Nobody Sleeps have that kept me watching is its awesome gore and make-up effects, with the killers' gross deformities being one of its highlights just for how detailed and stomach-churning they are to look at. The murders are an okay set, one of which doing a decent jump scare that actually caught me by surprise while many others pay tribute to other backwoods slashers such as Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007), The Burning (1980) and that one iconic kill in Friday The 13th Part VII: New Blood (1987). In fact, I kinda like the little movie Easter eggs here and there as other slashers like Castle Freak (1995), Just Before Dawn (1981) and Freddy vs Jason (2003), as well as iconic horror titles like The Evil Dead (1981) and even Creepshow (1982) get a nod and a wink which often got me chuckling, if not simply gleeful at how they're worked into the story. (Absolutely loving the The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill-inspired explanation for the killers' madness, which simply came out of nowhere!)
I also like the fact that the writing in this film tries to flesh out its characters a bit more than simply keeping them within the stereotypes they're portraying, though this inadvertently shows Nobody Sleeps' flaws in keeping a fair flow and consistency in tone; while a good deal of the story has this sullen yet youthful atmosphere that centers on teen insecurities and struggles, without a doubt to build upon cathartic demises for the group, the random bits of comic relief, wonky theremin-laced score and weird leeways at the near end just cluttered and hobbled what could have been an effective emotional run for the film, hence making the finale feeling uneven.
And then there are the plot holes, such as one character knowing way too much dirt on what the killers are and were (and none of the doomed kids addressing this matter), and this film's obvious final character being in a camp that keeps you from using technology, though their background reveals they might as well be traumatized from using technology seeing what it did to their family. They're distracting, but fortunately few on my book so not as jarring or annoying as one might expect.
Marketed as Poland's first slasher film, Nobody Sleeps In The Woods Tonight is a modest production for what is basically a homage to 80s bodycounters. (and then some) It's far from great, but for what it offers in bloody kills, monstrous killers and decent enough characters through an easily digestible story, I say it earns a viewing or two from good little slasher fans like you and me!
1 male dragged away, killed
1 female killed offcamera, blood splash seen
1 male repeatedly swung and beaten against a tree inside a sleeping bag
1 female decapitated offcamera, head thrown out
1 female gets a dead branch ran through her mouth
1 male had his eyes thumbed, shredded through a wood chipper
1 male seen crawling out of a burning car wreck, killed (flashback)
1 female and 1 girl implied killed in car crash (flashback)
1 male gutted with a knife
1 male shot with a shotgun
1 male split down in half with an axe