Neil Amdur's May 28, 2010 N.Y. Times article "Acting in a Film: It Could Happen to You" stated "Mr. D'Onofrio, who made the movie for $100,000, said he was more interested in finding young talent whose 'rawness, flatness and bad timing' as actors would 'work in a kind of odd way' for what has been described as a slasher musical."
Vincent D'Onofrio deserves some credit for trying to be a little experimental in the horror genre, which is too often formulaic. Going into it, I really wanted to like it. That said, the plot was entirely formulaic and too much of the film taken up by undeveloped characters and singing. "Rawness, flatness and bad timing" are definitely on screen but they don't work in an odd or any other way, unfortunately. I wish the director had said more about why he thought that might work, or other aspects of making the film. I don't blame the cast or crew for wanting to work with D'Onofrio in the Kingston vicinity; I'd have willingly done so myself. In Q&A's he and his co-writer indicated hey took inspiration from Slacker (1991), Clerks (1994), Haute tension (2003), Severance (2006), and Once (2007), though that unfortunately is not apparent in Don't Go in the Woods itself.
Unlike some of the other reviewers, I like both horror *and* musicals, and have enjoyed some horror/musicals. Don't Go in the Woods isn't so much a horror/musical as a horror movie with a lot of music in it, or perhaps is better described as an outdoor band rehearsal with a very paltry amount of horror and acting in it.
The killer's garb and weapon are kind of neat (though little seen), a tracheotomy by a melodica garnered the mildest wisp of a chuckle, and the scenes of one character stopping to play and record on portable Digital Audio Tape a song while fleeing the woods and of another character seemingly singing along to a recording while being attacked (the singing might be imagined) were sort of funny in a way. Perhaps if the rest of the music had been more integrated it would have worked better, or if there wasn't quite so darn much of it. There is frankly more singing in it than in most musicals - possibly only Les parapluies de Cherbourg (1964), where every line is sung, exceeds it.
Meredith Border's October 19, 2011 review for Badass Digest stated D'Onofrio "said he only wanted to make it as entertaining as possible" and "said that he made the film after asking himself, 'What can I do right now? I have a very good friend (Bisbee) who is a great composer, and I have woods and a film crew. So I thought, How about a slasher musical?'" The band was friends with his nephew, and actors were people he encountered at coffee shops or cast by randomly asking people on the street. She also noted he joked, "If we made a sequel, I would call it I SAID, Don't Go In The Woods!" His humor and graciousness all make one really want the film to be good, and to feel somewhat bad about criticizing it.
Good horror movies are hard to make, and so-bad-they're-good horror movies are rare. This isn't either, sadly. As poor as it is, really *because* of how poor it is, the videos of D'Onofrio's Q&As at screenings that are available online, are somewhat worth watching (though the video and audio on the ones I've watched so far are very bad, probably done with cellphones). Most of the Q&A's have the same questions and answers; one wishes more probing questions were asked. If there were a DVD with commentary by him regarding its production, I'd definitely listen to that.
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