With a lot of theaters still shut down, horror films are proving to be ideally suited for a pandemic thanks to their viability in both drive-in and video on demand formats. Murder in the Woods doesn’t revolutionize the stranded in the woods genre, but it plays the hits well making for an entertaining horror thriller.
What helps Murder in the Woods stand out is it features an entirely Latinx cast, director and screenwriter.
Real diversity is an uphill battle in some genres so this proves an refreshing departure from the norm where the minority character is usually the first or second character killed.
Six high school teenagers travel to a cabin in the woods for a weekend of debauchery. Jesse (Jose Julian) hopes to reconnect with his childhood crush, Fernanda (Jeanette Samano). Chelsea (Chelsea Rendon) just wants to have a great birthday celebration with her boyfriend Gabe (Jordan Dimbrini). Jule (Kade Wise) just wants to hook up with the easy girl from school Celeste (Catherine Toribio).
Danny Trejo (The Flash) has a fun cameo as Sheriff Lorenzo, the local authority figure who seems more than a little suspect.
The film doesn’t truly deviate dramatically from the standard formula though it’s fun watching a horror movie where the characters have basic common sense.
When the first body shows up the group’s immediate response is to head back home. This more logical approach makes it so the eventual victims aren’t easy marks that are entirely incapable of thinking smartly.
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Still, to play within the genre rules screenwriter Yelena De Leon frequently has characters venture out on their own to ‘check things out.’
De Leon does shake things up with some unexpected ways to kill off characters. I just wish De Leon could have made the killer a little less obvious. It robs the film of too much suspense and makes the second act too predictable.
Director Luis Iga Garza telegraphs jump scares, but the fake outs lead to satisfying deaths. The killer’s voyeur vision offers a welcome different perspective and Iga Garza works in some timely chase sequences.
The soundtrack doesn’t quite work with song choices that seem more fitting for a Lifetime love scene than a horror movie. For a horror movie, the performances are fine. The cast handles their roles well and don’t seem unsure of how to play their characters.
Murder in the Woods has a few issues that hold it back from being this generation’s Scream, but it does have its charm and worth checking out for genre fans.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Photo Credit: REZINATE Pictures