Steer clear of this loose connection of tropes already exhausted by the mid ‘80s and fully inexcusable in a 2020 slasher. The only people vaguely interested in watching something like Murder in the Woods would be pre-existing horror fans but I’d be a little perplexed how a horror lover would be scared, entertained, or even mildly amused by a single thing that occurs considering this has all been done to death. The *sole* unique trait to be found is a largely Hispanic cast and crew, which really has nothing to do with the quality and is more movie trivia. 

On the anniversary of Jesse’s (José Julián) parents’ deaths, he and friends Fernanda (Jeanette Samano), Celeste (Catherine Toribio), Jule (Kade Wise), and Gabe (Jordan Diambrini) head out to celebrate Chelsea’s (Chelsea Rendon) birthday at a family home in the woods. After bumping into Sheriff Lorenzo (Danny Trejo) at a gas station en route to their destination they experience a spot of car trouble and find themselves stranded at the family home in the woods. Before long the birthday fun segues into survival as they try to last the night against a mysterious figure picking them off one by one…

Between the poorly performed characters who act like non-human idiots from Friday the 13th Part 14 (a virgin, a jock, a fool, a “nice guy,” and TWO sluts–for variety?), awful music, and an overall lack of anything remotely frightening or even close to dumb fun there’s genuinely nothing to recommend here. Every aspect of this feature–characters, story, jump scares, “twists,” etc–is something you’ve likely seen several times already. 2012’s The Cabin in the Woods, in particular, pointed out *so many* of these tired and predictable scary movie moments from the last 40 years that I’m a little surprised Murder in the Woods follows the exact same beats with almost no variation from the expected.

I’m struggling to find something I think the film did well or interestingly but I’m sorry to say the whole thing feels like 30 seconds of thought was put into plot & characters before filming started. For instance, one slutty girl decides she’s had enough after an altercation with the other slutty girl (over the jock moron, imagine that!) so she decides to walk home through 30+miles of woods in the dead of night. Would you be surprised to learn a ho-hum death scene follows? Also, the eventual “twists” couldn’t be any less surprising since they’re telegraphed long before the reveals take place and the frustrating Final Girl has no agency whatsoever–she’s a virginal librarian damsel in need of repeated rescuing who makes no efforts to save herself. The rest of the cast fares no better on their shallow, one trait characters with the unmasking of the killer being one of the most underwhelming reveals I’ve seen in a long while to the point I was waiting for another twist because it’s astonishingly obvious.

Murder in the Woods reminds me of several disappointing gay themed projects–mostly horror, but not always–I’ve seen over the years that I *want* to be good but unfortunately have nothing new to offer aside from being GAY! in cast & crew (as if that should be enough). All the same dull cliches, lackluster direction, glaring plot holes, and general trashiness of dud movies don’t suddenly become worthwhile to me because of who made it–a subpar film is a subpar film and, sorry to say, this is quite subpar.

 

3 out of 10 Virginal Librarians

 

Murder in the Woods
RATING:R
Runtime:1 Hr. 28 Mins.
Directed By:
Luis Iga
Written By:
Yelyna De Leon