Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Film Review: A Night in the Woods (2012)

A Night in the Woods (Review)
United Kingdom/2012
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Prime
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"I'd rather spend a night in Aokigahara – Japan's infamous suicide forest – then spend another night in these woods."

Brody (Scoot McNairy), his girlfriend Kerry (Anna Skellern), and her cousin Leo (Andrew Hawley) go on a camping trip on the legendary grounds of The Huntsman, a folklore urban legend who carves crosses into the foreheads of sinners...

The first half of A Night in the Woods can be explained as pointless camping videos. Some would argue it's character and plot development, I would argue otherwise. So, to save you sometime and considering nothing remotely horrifying happens, let me explain the first 45 or so minutes: the group arrive in the woods and setup camp, smoke some weed and tell a campfire tale; it turns out, Kerry actually disguised her ex-boyfriend as her cousin to bring him on the trip, and Brody also suspects foul play; Brody continues to be insecure, the cheating Kerry plays the victim whenever she's confronted about it, and Leo turns out to be a creeper. Eventually, they all end up separated, and that's the first half. Now, the next 40 minutes is your typical found-footage horror where a character runs around the woods from something she can't see. The ending looks like it's heading somewhere, but ends abruptly – a terrible ending for a terrible film.

Okay, so nothing happens during the first half, and the second half resembles horror – I emphasize resembles because it was never actually frightening. Some time after the 45 minute mark, you get a loud noise scare. Then, you get some running and heavy breathing, a break, some more running, some silence, and another jump-scare. Suspense is at a minimal. The jump-scares may be effective depending on how high you have your volume. These are very loud jump-scares – and I mean VERY loud – I didn't find them scary, though, they were more like obnoxious and cheap. On that note, the characters are annoying and obnoxious, as well, which makes this film even harder to get through. You absolutely cannot root for any of the characters. I mean, you want me to root for the blatant and cowardly cheater, the insecure, cowardly cameraman, or the obnoxiously loud douchebag?

The acting is as boring and bland as it gets. The cast are playing some generic characters that do not demand any skill. Scoot McNairy was decent, but the final act has him shouting obnoxiously. Anna Skellern plays the most annoying character in the film; at least she confirms the myth, though: women can be douchebags. And, Andrew Hawley plays a douchebag, too. Not a single performance is demanding or original, you've seen these performances in other films if you've watched any other found-footage horror films. I like the setting, and it was captured decently; and, when they weren't running, the camerawork was a little better than the usual. Director and writer Richard Parry delivers a carbon copy of the last man's found-footage horror film; not a shred of originality, or even a shred of horror, to be found.

Overall, A Night in the Woods is a bad horror film. It's generic, cliché, and even obnoxious. There is very little horror in this film, aside from the weak jump-scares. It doesn't even use it's urban legend effectively. The first 45 minutes are a waste of time, and, if you want suspense or actual terror, the second half fails to deliver. I'd rather spend a night in Aokigahara – Japan's infamous suicide forest –
then spend another night in these woods.

Score: 2/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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