The first feature as director for longtime fine actor Vincent D’Onofrio (Kill the Irishman), Woods is as ambling as the five young musicians — one of whom is blind — who drive their van to a forest for a songwriting retreat, where the following things are not allowed: booze, drugs, girls, phones and common sense.
That last one isn’t stated, but upon arrival at their destination, the guys see a sign that reads, “DON’T GO IN THE WOODS.” Rather than heed the warning, one exclaims, “Hey, that’s make a great album cover!” What else do you expect from a group in which one member wears a T-shirt bearing the words, “I Piss Excellence”?
Girls show up anyway, intoxicants in tow. They and the guys all get drunk, get high (“Hey, do you know cats can’t understand Chinese?”), get horny and get musical. Both within and outside of the context of the film, characters burst into song throughout. That’s all that accounts for any action until, with roughly 20 minutes left, most of the kids start falling prey to someone swinging a sledgehammer.
You won’t care, because no reason to has been established. Nobody has been set up as likable, much less set up at all, and the amateur acting — out of budgetary necessity, D’Onofrio casts not only unknowns, but unskilled — does the slipshod story no favors, making for aggravating viewing.
Granted, Don’t Go in the Woods is an experiment — horror + musical – money = ? — but I’m afraid it’s one that just didn’t work. Most of the music is good, however, which must be why D’Onofrio pays so much more attention to it. That’s where the talent lies, but to no point, to no avail.
“It was worth a try,” goes one lyric sang by the film’s final girl. —Rod Lott