My friends and I have always loved booking a cabin for a weekend getaway. It doesn’t even have to be that far from home, but the experience of changing our environment always lifts our spirits.
Of course, I have a particular role to play during these weekend excursions: that of the devoted horror fan, all too willing to point out the potentially lethal situation we’ve put ourselves in. Cell phone reception a little spotty? I’ll be the first to notice. Strange neighbors down the road? Yep, I’ll point them out. I can’t help it. I’ve seen one too many movies about killers on the loose, ready to take down a group of unsuspecting revelers. So, I was in my element when I got the chance to see MURDER IN THE WOODS.
In the film, a group of young people heads out on just such a cabin adventure to celebrate their friend Chelsea’s (Chelsea Rendon) birthday. But right from the get-go, there’s trouble. Jule (Kade Wise) has not only invited himself along, but he’s also brought the polarizing Celeste (Catherine Toribio). Fernanda (Jeanette Samano), Chelsea’s virginal cousin, has agreed to come along, but refuses to get into the party spirit. But most troubling of all is Jesse (José Julián), who has chosen to join the fun even though it’s the anniversary of his parent’s death.
Despite all the tension, the friends soon let loose and celebrate with the obligatory beer pong and dancing found in the best slasher films. Things are looking up for our merry band until it’s discovered that a killer is stalking their every move. Cue the great special effects, incredible kills, and one hell of a third act reveal.
MURDER IN THE WOODS is a fun romp made to please even the pickiest of slasher fans. Director Luis Iga Garza lovingly weaves every trope of the classic sub-genre into his film while still telling a story that is fun, freaky, and fresh. And I mean every trope. Spooky gas station stops, bad cell reception, killer POV, car trouble, it’s all there, and it’s great.
But don’t think you know where this story is going. Writer Yelyna De León has penned a tale that tows the tried and true slasher line just long enough for the viewer to get comfortable before taking things in a direction you won’t be prepared for.
This is a delightful little film made even better by its casting of Latinx and BIPOC actors in non-stereotypical roles. From the director: “I realized that this type of film had never been done in English where Latinos and people of color are the leads and they are not portrayed in stereotypical ways. This film showcases the talents of our young diverse cast and I’m proud to say that we have made the first ‘All American Slasher’ with a fully diverse cast in non-stereotypical roles.”
I applaud Mr. Iga’s commitment to creating a horror film with such a talented and diverse cast. And you’ll applaud after you finish watching this thoroughly enjoyable addition to slasher cinema.
The award-winning slasher film MURDER IN THE WOODS comes to drive-ins and theaters nationwide on August 14, 2020, with a Digital and Video on Demand release slated for September 18, 2020.