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REVIEW: Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight

Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight is a Polish horror filmabout a group of technology dependent youths visiting an offline summer camp who are terrorised by a danger lurking in the woods. 

The film follows a small group centred around Zosia (Julia Wieniawa), as they head out from the camp on a 3 day trek into the woods and encounter some very unfriendly locals. I’m afraid that from the very start, there’s nothing about this film that is particularly original. Pretty much every classic slasher horror is noticeably referenced here, from Friday the 13th to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and everything in between. It even drifts into sci-fi at one point. Some might say this is a homage to these films, but for me it was just a blatant copy. From the hillbilly bad guys in wooden cabins to the use of a machete, it all just felt so unoriginal. There was nothing at all in this that didn’t remind me of another, much better film. And that’s not even taking into account all of the clichéd horror movie tropes that are thrown in throughout – I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen dismembered deer/wildlife and phone batteries that are conveniently dying to name but a few, and Nobody Sleeps in the Woods tonight can’t seem to avoid these.

Despite this, there are some (very few) positives. The score is surprisingly atmospheric and dramatic, and works so well to build some much needed tension. The practical special effects, at least in the death scenes, are also good and there’s a pretty decent amount of gore. However this is pretty much the only good things I can say about this film. Whilst the death effects might be good, the creature/enemy effects are severely lackingand they look very cheap and second rate. It doesn’t help that their characters are rather silly and have no real purpose other than to kill. And even their murdering appears to be nonsensical and sporadic – for instance in one scene killing a character who’s outside yet completely ignoring those in tents a mere metres away. The youths don’t fare any better when it comes to characterisation either. They are your usual slasher movie group and aside from Zosia none have any real depth or back story, and for the most part they don’t live enough for you to care anyway. 

But even considering all of the above, by far the worst crime of this film is the fact that it’s dubbed. Dubbing is one of my personal pet peeves. I cannot abide watching anything where the sound doesn’t sync with actors mouths moving, especially when the dubbing isn’t intended as tongue in cheek. And worse still, Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight features the most cringeworthy dubbing I’ve ever heard, with some very stereotypical American voiceovers that are made worse by the cheesy script that tries to shoehorn in as many geeky pop cultures references that it can find. Within 10 minutes I’d had enough and I do wonder if this film could’ve been much more bearable has it just been subtitled instead. 

Dubbing aside, this film is still pretty poor and riddled with so many clichés that you can barely discern any truly original ideas. If you want to watch a horror film like this, you’d be better off watching the classic originals.

W lesie dzis nie zasnie nikt (2020) Horror, Thriller | 1h 42min | 28 October 2020 (Germany) 4.8
Director: Bartosz M. KowalskiWriters: Bartosz M. Kowalski, Jan KwiecinskiStars: Julia Wieniawa-Narkiewicz, Michal Lupa, Wiktoria GasiewskaSummary: A group of technology-dependent teenagers goes to - offline camp. Common hiking in the woods without access to smartphones will not end, however, as planned by the organizers. They will have to fight for real life with something that they have not seen even in the darkest corners of the Internet. In the face of deadly danger lurking in the woods, they will discover what true friendship, love and sacrifice are. Written by ron_whisky

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Sarah Clapperton
A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I'm not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills - Bake Off here I come!