Thursday, June 14, 2012

The rock ‘n’ roll slasher movie musical

An indie band heads for the woods to work on their music. There is a sign as they enter that says DON'T GO IN THE WOODS, which is also the title of this 2010 movie. It would have been more proper for the sign to read DON'T BOTHER WATCHING THIS MOVIE.

The band plays typical shoe-gazer music, introspective and pretentious. They are led by doe-eyed Nick, played by Matt Sbeglia. Nick is serious about making music, to the point of taking his band into the wilderness and setting up tents so they can concentrate on their songs. He also smashes their cell phones (oh the humanity!) Depending on your interpretation of this incoherent mess, he may also be the person responsible for the killings. This is Sbeglia's only credit on the Internet Movie Database, and I'm sure this is a movie he would not want casting directors to see.

What we're led to believe is that we're going to see a slasher movie. Normally I avoid movies about crazed killers attacking young people in remote locations, like woods or old farmhouses. I watched this movie because it was directed by Vincent D'Onofrio, an actor whom I admire. My advice to Mr. D'Onofrio is much the same as what I gave to Matt Sbeglia. Don't show this to anyone if you want to get another directing job.

The movie goes long stretches while these young men do their songs. They present the songs in their full form. So the movie takes a long time to get to the action. Some girls show up. Nick doesn't want any women around, but the girls apparently didn't get the message and have invited themselves. The girls also sing, which we see when they are walking in the woods to go home, or running away from a killer. The band plays songs while playing their instruments, the girls can sing with full accompaniment even without instruments. I didn't have closed captioning and I couldn't make out all the lyrics, but I heard enough to know the songs are full of angst and lost love.

Two of the girls, mad at the boys in the band, decide to take off in the middle of the night and drive to a motel. They sing their way through the dark forest with only lanterns to guide them, until they find the car, which won't start. In a short sequence one of the girls disappears, only to reappear a few seconds later (!) in the form of a chopped off leg on the hood of the car, which our killer, wielding a sledgehammer, has wrecked by busting out the windshield.

If I thought girls singing while going through dark woods was bad, it got worse. Later in the movie one of the girls who speaks only French, for a reason not made clear in the script (not unlike everything else in this story), runs to the group to tell them her friend has been dragged off into the woods by a mysterious man in a black topcoat and black fedora. She resorts to singing in French. About the time I got my jaw back off the floor from the silliness of that bit of business I was watching Nick and his girlfriend run from the killer. Nick stopped to sing a song. His girl tries to get him to come but he stands his ground, screeching out his ridiculous lyrics. It was more painful than watching people get whacked with a sledgehammer! The girl, as she runs from the killer, is knocked to the ground, where the killer appears to be pulling pieces of flesh from her back. The movie isn't short of gross-out special effects, but as she's being attacked she's singing. My chin dropped back to the floor and stayed there.

Nick makes it out, the only one alive, with some indication he's actually the killer. Eric Bagosian, who is credited with being in the movie, has two lines in the very last scene. Since he played D'Onofrio's boss for a time on Law and Order Criminal Intent, he might have been doing his friend a favor by stepping in for a quick scene. The ending is supposed to be some kind of surprise, but by then I didn't care, I just wanted the thing to be over.

If not for the endless music being played and sung in this movie I believe the movie would have been about ten minutes long. But as it is, it seems much longer than its listed 83 minutes.

There's a 1981 movie with the same title, which also scores about as low on the Internet Movie Database rating. It gets a 3.0, whereas this turkey does slightly better with a 3.1. If there had even been any sex or nudity I would have given it at least a 1.5, but on the IMDb rating I give it a 0.5 I watched it on Netflix online, and at the end where Netflix asks the viewer to rate it I gave it a "hated it" rating.

I believe at some point in the development of this movie it must've looked really good on paper. My advice is if someone suggests renting this movie hit 'em with a sledgehammer. Honest, you'd be doing them a favor.

This movie gets my personal Postino FLUSH-IT award.


Bigscreenwriter said...

I actually liked the movie. The music was different and very nice to hear. The writing was decent as well as the acting for the budget it had. I'm a writer myself and most good movies are put down by the mainstream laymen. Definitely will see again and I will probly buy it eventually!

Postino said...

Bigscreenwriter, thanks for your comment. In some ways it's reassuring to know that someone likes the movie, although my problems with it still stand. I think it was an audacious idea that didn't work in the final product.

>most good movies are put down by the mainstream laymen<

Ah, but if movies were only made for those professionals working in the industry it would be a mighty small audience, wouldn't it?

Maria Mukara said...

I too enjoyed this movie. It was different yes, but did it make a lick of sense - depends on your perspective. The part where the one girl is being slashed by the killer pulling flesh from her and she goes into singing, that would had worked better when she found out Nick was the killer as she lyed there dying - thats when she should had sang! It was a refreshing different movie. I would recommend this to only a selected few.