Low-budget filmmaking is one of the most exciting places to find new ideas and talent. The limits of what a low-budget independent film can do make for an amazing playground where imagination and cleverness come up on top. To navigate what is the making of a movie and use the few resources you have in the proper way becomes such a challenge that it might end up creating something unique and vibrant. This is a review of “Something in the Woods” a new low-budget horror film that arrives soon on digital.
Some of the most notable films in history were made under not the best conditions. However, the teams managed to pull through thanks to their love of cinema and also thanks to the quality of the fantastic story they wanted to tell. Unfortunately, “Something in the Woods” is not even trying to be at least entertaining. It is a collection of scenes that have very little going for them. There is no tension or shock value in this tiresome horror movie.
The film is directed by Alexander T. Hwang and stars Nicole Cinaglia and Vienna Hayden. The film tells the story of a reporter who has recently found herself famous thanks to the breaking of an important piece of news involving a politician. Sadly, the politician has committed suicide, and his daughter is anything but happy. The daughter will look for the reporter to make her pay. However, what none of them know is that they will clash with something far more dangerous and vicious than any of them.
Something in the Woods runs for about 75 minutes, but the short movie feels like hours long thanks to a very thin script that doesn’t know how to construct interesting characters that make us root for them. Nora Thompson, the reporter in question, is one of the most awful people you can imagine. She’s shallow, vain, and clueless. Carolyn, the politician’s daughter looking for revenge, is dumb, has zero charisma, and is clueless as well. Put them together, and they are a recipe for boredom.
It would be cruel to blame Cinaglia and Hayden for the result. Their acting isn’t the best, but they are trying to work with the material that was given to them. Sadly, this material is very low on the quality scale. It feels like the script was barely into the first draft when it was decided that it was good enough to be the shooting script. You can feel it because the story doesn’t have any punch, and it feels more like a situation than an actual story.
When the first act of your 75-minute film goes for around 30 minutes, and it is just the setup to your story, that should be a very loud warning sign. A sign that your film just doesn’t have enough meat in it. This extended setup then falls into a very boring “development” that consists mostly in talking around in circles to them put the characters into the woods to honor the film’s title. It all feels very staged and bare-bones.
The final stretch of the film just devolved into running around the woods. All of it was filmed with a very exaggerated blue filter to make it seem like it was night and then, well. Let’s say the creature that is stalking our protagonist is quite funny looking. Not showing your creature until the end has always been a staple in horror cinema. However, you must make sure that when you show the creature, you need to deliver. If not, everything falls apart.
A poor script and characters are not the only aspects lacking in “Something in the Woods”. The music could be one of the worst offenders in the film. Every piece of music seems to be a tiny piece that is being looped to fit the length of whatever scene needs it. It is both annoying and distracting. Music should be used to play with the emotions of the audience, to make us feel in danger or safe. Here it is just used to fill the silence.
It could be that saying all these things about a low-budget movie could be considered cruel, but it is clear that there is no energy or vision behind anything in these movies. This is very sad because a more fleshed-out story could have been at least entertaining. Some movies have proven that you just need two people talking in a room to make everything feel tense and exciting. This movie had that and more and still feels incomplete.
There are many better horror movies out there, especially in the low-budget independent tier of filmmaking. Writers, directors, actors, and the rest of the crew can all put in a bit of each other to make a movie excellent, even when money is scarce. It is a shame that Something in the Woods couldn’t have that at the end of the day.