Dont Go in the Woods is a 2010 American horror musical written and directed by Vincent DOnofrio. The film was first shown in 2010 at single locations in the United States. It was released on Video on demand (VOD) on 26 December 2011, and on general theatrical release in January 2012. The film was made in upper New York state by 5 Minutes Productions, and distributed by Tribeca Film.
A band, consisting of leader Nick (Matt Sbeglia), Anton (Casey Smith), Johnny (Soomin Lee), Carlo (Jorgen Jorgensen) and the blind Robbie (Nick Thorp) decide to go camping in the woods to write five new songs. Upon arriving, they discover a sign reading (Dont Go in the Woods), however they ignore it and set up camp in a nearby clearing. While Nick and Carlo are collecting firewood, they find a hunting cabin that is full of weapons including a sledgehammer, however they ignore it and decide to break the groups cellphones to help with the creative process. Meanwhile, the bands manager Carson (Bo Boddie) arrives at the woods. While he tries to find the campsite he is attacked and killed.
As night falls, the group begin to, successfully, write new songs for their album. Nick tells the legend of a group of warriors who became stranded in the woods and resorted to cannibalism, with ultimately only one surviving. Soon after the band are joined by a group of their female friends including Nicks ex-girlfriend Ashley (Cassandra Lee Walker), Johnnys girlfriend Callie (Kate OMalley), Melinda (Ali Tobia) and her foreign friend Sophie (Nuriya Aimaya) who speaks little English, Felicity (Gwynn Galitzen) and best friends Charlotte (Kira Gorelick) and Georgia (Alyssa Jang). While the rest of the band are happy to be joined, Nick is upset, knowing the group will become distracted from their songwriting. As the group drink and enjoy themselves, Charlotte becomes upset with Carlos flirting and angrily leaves to go and stay in a motel. Georgia follows Charlotte and the pair wander back to the cars. As Charlotte gets in the driving seat, a sledgehammer begins to smash through the windscreen, with Georgias severed arm being flung onto the hood. As Charlotte attempts to drive away, the window is smashed open and she is attacked.
The following morning, Nick wakes everyone up early, determined to get the girls to leave. Anton offers to walk the girls to the van, however upon arriving they find the battery dead and are forced to return to the camp. During the day, Nick and Ashley briefly reconcile after their recent break-up, but Nick decides to spend the day writing alone, annoyed at the bands lack of focus. At night, the band continue to write new music. Nick takes all of the girls cellphones and breaks them, despite their protests. While Anton is performing a song he wrote he becomes upset and leaves, angering Nick. Felicity decides to search for Anton, but she is brutally hit and killed with a sledgehammer. Johnny and Callie also leave the campsite to make out, and are beaten to death.
The following day Melinda and Sophie go on a walk by the river. As Melinda helps Sophie improve her English, the killer arrives and drags Melinda away, eventually killing her. Sophie rushes back to the campsite to warn the others, but can not due to the language barrier, only confusing the others. The killer arrives again and kills Sophie, Carlo and Robbie. Meanwhile, Ashley runs into Nick as she is trying to escape the woods. However, Nick begins to play a song with his guitar instead of running. Ashley then notices blood all over Nicks hands, and realizes he is the killer. Ashley runs away and discovers Anton impaled through the neck. Nick catches up with her and cuts her back open, leaving her to die.
As the movie ends, a record producer congratulates Nick on his album, entitled Dont go in the Woods, telling him it was a good idea to get rid of the band.Matt Sbeglia as Nick Storm
Cassandra Lee Walker as Ashley
Casey Smith as Anton
Soomin Lee as Johnny
Kate OMalley as Callie
Jorgen Jorgensen as Carlo
Nick Thorp as Robbie
Nuriya Aimaya as Sophie
Gwynn Galitzen as Felicity
Ali Tobia as Melinda
Kira Gorelick as Charlotte
Alyssa Jang as Georgia
Bo Boddie as Carson
Tim Lajcik as Monster
Eric Bogosian - Producer
The film was shot on two cameras in woods on DOnofrios land in Woodstock, New York state. DOnofrio decided to make the film during a waiting period for another project to go ahead; he said "My friends and I were in the middle of another project, waiting for the rights for that, and it was taking too long." Filming started two months after the initial idea, took twelve days to shoot, and was completed for a budget of $100,000.
The film is DOnofrios directorial debut. During an interview with Patrick McDonald of hollywoodchicago.com, he was asked how directors he had worked with influenced him; DOnofrio said that great directors stuck with their original idea and were not sidetracked. McDonald asked him "How did you honor those impressions," to which he replied, "I don’t know if I actually did that on my set. I used the script as a blueprint, we purposely wrote this B-movie structure, and made it into a musical. Basically that was the plan, and that is what we achieved."
In an interview with Edward Douglas of Shocktillyoudrop.net, DOnofrio spoke of how the films genre was intended as a slasher musical, and that he had wanted to "make an absurd slasher musical". He went on to discuss how the casting was done "off the street [...] some of the girls worked in a coffee shop around the corner from my house". He did say that "three of the guys were in a band, the Dirty Dirty" and had recorded music together prior to the film. He also talked about how it was "difficult to keep tension [of a horror film] going" while interspersing it with musical numbers, "as singing releases on-screen tension."
DOnofrio also said that the films title was not a reference to the same-named 1980s film.
Critical reception has been negative. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 13% on its tomatometer with 8 of the 9 critic reviews being negative. Kristen McCracken of Huffington Post Entertainment, described it as "a fun ride, with the loose feel of a campy B-horror-movie from decades past (the difference here is that Bisbee’s music is good), with twists and turns and jumps galore". Dustin Putman said that, although it "probably shouldnt work—or, at least, what ought to come off as campy—avoids such pitfalls", the film "is made in grand spirits and with undeniable know-how. Its conventional and truly one-of-a-kind all at once. Theres nothing else out there like it."
Michelle Orange of Movieline.com said "Though obviously aware of the potential and prepared to really go for it, D’Onofrio came up with something that feels unfinished an interesting harmony that needs a better bridge." Most critical was Nick Pinkerton, of the Village Voice, who said that the cast are "no great shakes as actors", going on to say that the film "is cozily resigned to its novelty niche but an affront to fans of the genres it bowdlerizes."