A slasher musical and an indie ghost story. Are either worth a watch?
DON’T GO IN THE WOODS (2010)
Someone has taken their dreams of wanting to go solo too far! Don’t Go in the Woods is a musical and a slasher all in one so I definitely wanted to check it out,but every time I caught parts of it on cable, I saw a wannabe Rent cast sitting around a campfire singing about their emotional pain with their painful voices and it was…painful.
I finally took the time and watched it beginning to end. The opener is so promising. Scary shots of the woods, a scream, and a super gory clip of a mutilated person.
Then we meet a bunch of posers in a band driving to some secluded forest to write songs without distraction. They’re singing a song about loving a man. Still promising. But then they get to the chorus and that man is Jesus. So gay, and not in a good way. Then one guy throws their pot supply out the window. Getting worse. He announces a weekend of no women. Looking up again. And no phones. Wahoo! And then they find a sign that says, “Don’t go in the woods” and go in anyway. Okay. I’m totally back on board.
And then they sing. And sing. And sing. And it hurts. A lot. Then the girls crash the party. And they sing. And I’ve never wanted a cast of kids in a slasher to die this much before.
Buried deep within the discordance are some fun slasher moments. There are the spooky campfire stories and cheap scare pranks. There are guys vacillating between slamming each other with gay slurs and flirting with each other about giving blowjobs to one another. There are bloody body parts. Vehicles that won’t start. Kids going off on their own and never coming back. A mysterious figure popping up in the background now and then.
And finally, after over an hour of campfire songs that make you wish you were impaled on a stick and being roasted like a marshmallow, all hell breaks loose and the kids are violently hacked up one after the other. And you root for the killer. Because the killer stops them from singing. But the final girl is determined to perform her big solo. She sings through every slash, hobbling and singing, crawling and singing, fatally bleeding and singing.
And the scariest part is that when all is said and done, someone actually gives the killer a recording contract.
The best way to watch the slasher musical Don’t Go in the Woods is to fast forward through all the songs. I know—that makes it no longer a musical. But if you can’t give me From Justin to Kelly level songs with my slasher, I’m not interested.
THE PACT (2012)
Only a brilliantly terrifying movie like The Pact can cleanse the palate and serve the horror appetizer, main course, and dessert all in one shot.
If you think the Paranormal Activity movies are terrifying, you haven’t seen The Pact. Director Nicholas McCarthy doesn’t need torture, excessive gore, CGI ghosts, a body count, or a crazed killer to scare the piss out of you. He does it all with a few rooms in a house, a closet door, and fleeting glimpses of a creepy figure.
Focusing on the story of two sisters in a small house, The Pact creates a simple yet terrifying feeling of isolation and claustrophobia, reminding me of the equally amazing film Absentia (which I cover here). It manages to forge ahead with very little distraction and very few characters, including Casper Van Dien as a virtually pointless detective. It kind of feels like his part was in place simply to have a familiar name in the cast.
It also seems as if the last cheesy “shocker” moment, which is very out of place in such a finely crafted film, was a move forced upon the flick by the studio, not only to give it a “zinger” ending, but also to set The Pact up for a potential sequel. Anyone who has seen Insidious 2 most likely has a permanent aversion to sequels like I do, so I vote no to The Pact 2.
If I have any complaint about this perfect horror film, it’s the same complaint I have about every film that features eyeball-sized peepholes in walls; there is no way they would go unseen, even within the most distracting of wall papers! But I can forgive The Pact, not only because it scared the frick out of me, but because there’s also a nice homage to the coat hanger scene from the original Halloween.
And speaking of holidays, The Pact takes place at Christmas time, but there is no holiday spirit to be found. The only spirits here are those of the dead. And they are pros at the whole haunting thing.