• Angus McGregor

2020 Film Review: Nobody Sleeps In The Woods Tonight

Plot Synopsis: A group of technology-dependent teenagers goes to offline camp and faces a deadly danger lurking in the woods.

Being hailed as the first Polish slasher film, director Bartosz M. Kowalski looks to bring the 80’s style horror film to his native homeland. With the usual tropes in a contemporary setting and a tonne of gore, Kowalski manages to create and enjoyable horror albeit not one that doesn’t reinvent the wheel.

Nobody Sleeps In The Woods Tonight immediately thrusts you into the mystery with it soon establishing its camp setting. The kids unfortunate to be shipped away to the Polish wilderness: technology infatuated teens on a reform to enjoy time away from screens.

5 teens and a guide embark into the wilderness for some peacefulness which is soon plagued by a gruesome pair of twins. Some nasty looking practical effects look nasty and off putting, giving the creatures an intimidating and unsettling appearance. The use of practical effects is excellent as there is plenty of gorey moments that look incredibly brutal and visual. The films presentation as a whole is also to be praised, with excellent cinematography and camerawork allowing this homage to stand out a bit more than some of the hordes of copycat slashers. 

The influence of 80’s horror is easily spotted within the films iconography but even goes further to replicating certain scenes. It’s clear to see the influence from the likes of Friday the 13th and the works of John Carpenter in this 100 odd minute feature. There’s also space for the usual tropes with sex leading to death, fake outs and the final girl, a bad ass heroine portrayed by Julia Wieniawa.

Kowalski’s film flirts with ideas of bringing deeper meanings or social commentary to his film, most notably in the form of LGBT issues and the Catholic Church. With all that is going on in Poland right regarding civil rights for LGBT people, it would have been extremely timely to delve into this worrying problem within Poland. Unfortunately, there isn’t an abundance of depth within this and is merely used as a short conversation topic. With Kowalski describing this film as an experiment, perhaps this is a sign of what he would like to focus on in future projects.

For a first attempt at a style of film that has gone largely untouched within a country’s catalogue of cinema, Nobody Sleeps In The Woods Tonight is a fine starting point. Sure, the film doesn’t offer an awful lot of complete originality but for horror fans this will surely suffice. There’s shocking kills with enough character to get by with, making this film an easy and enjoyable watch. 

Kowalski’s intentions with this feature was to open up the genre to the eyes of producers and filmmakers within Poland. If this is a film that can open the doors for more filmmakers to tell stories within the horror genre, that may be the

biggest impact that a director could ever possibly want.

Final Rating: 3/5


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