Director: Victor Franko
Year of release: 2005
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 54-60 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Not sure but I imagine it had a very limited DVD release initially.
Tagline: "Bring your own bodybag" and "Don't go in the woods".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Just to be clear from the outset this is the low budget 2005 film I’ll be talking about here not the more recent and better known 2017 film of the same name.
A group of seven friends consisting of two couples, a solitary nerd and two hard drinking pot smoking females head out to some local woodlands for a few days camping holiday. Upon arrival and after choosing a place to pitch their tents they are surprised to find some camping gear already on site seemingly abandoned. Not thinking too much of it they go about their business, one of the couples trying to coerce the other into a spot of swinger style partner swapping while the drug girls get the nerd high and worry him with tales of a monster reputed to reside within the woods. Soon enough it becomes apparent that the friends are not alone in the woods as they begin to be stalked by a masked lunatic, presumably the owner of the previously discovered camping gear. With a madman on the prowl the campers look set to become the victims of a massacre.
Good points: The killer looks the part wearing kind of an outdoor type farmer outfit and black sacking over his head. It’s no doubt inspired by and is reminiscent of the classic sack over the head Jason look from Friday the 13th part 2 or The Town that Dreaded Sundown although in this case is much darker in colour. It’s very much something that we’ve seen many times before but still a classic look so it does the job.
The deaths are varied and inventive with different methods and weapons used. If the IMDB website is accurate the film was made for just a paltry $500 so could perhaps be said to be the granddaddy of all super low budget slashers. With a budget like that the special effects aren’t great but to the films credit they are passable. I’d go as far to say that they are more than passable on occasion and are actually rather decent at times.
Some times during the course of the film we se things from the killers point of view when he is observing the party or isolated members of it without them realising he is there. During these segments there was a good musical piece that would accompany the visuals which I liked. Although generally I didn’t like the music in the film this more instrumental or suspense type music worked really well.
As you would have gathered from my description of the story this is quite standard stuff and is predictable but to give the filmmakers their due they do manage to shake things up for the ending. They provided something at the very end to close things out which I wasn’t expecting.
Bad Points: There was a lot of comedy put into the film that I didn’t like which for me ruined it a bit. The Ernie character, though someone who had the potential to be entertaining if used in a more underplayed subtle way was far too silly for my taste and not realistic enough. The way they had him behave was more befitting of a character with some sort of mental disorder but I don’t think he was supposed to suffer from anything like that. Perhaps I’m wrong and they were trying to imply he did have some sort of condition but I doubt it. Parts like where he just collapsed on his stomach to go to sleep once arriving at camp and the snoring and slobbering were just too much for me. Not quite as bad but also too silly at times were the two drink and drug girls Dolly and Dilly who were probably meant as an homage to two similar characters in Sleepaway Camp 2. The scene with these two near the start where they were shoplifting in a very exaggerated manner was another example of the film being too silly for my taste. A lot of people maybe enjoy this kind of stuff but for me I prefer things played straight in a more gritty realistic fashion.
The film is very short coming in at just 54 minutes with an extended credits sequence/blooper reel at the end to pad things out a bit. This short running time is most likely down to the budget but it did mean that certain aspects of the film weren’t as fleshed out as I would have liked. I would have preferred to have heard more about the urban legend of the monster in the woodlands instead of just having it briefly mentioned by two of the girls. Some backstory for the killer would also have been nice, some explanation as to what put the guy into a homicidal state of mind to begin with.
On the whole I didn’t like the music in the film as I thought it was used too much at the expense of dialogue. For example at the start when we were being introduced to some of the characters as they prepared for the camping trip it took about 8 minutes for the music to completely stop and for the talking to begin. Considering how short the film is this time would have been much better spent with dialogue to give us more of a chance to become attached to the characters.
Some of the reviews I’ve read for this praise the chase scene at the end involving the killer and final girl Cindy but I myself didn’t like it. Cindy makes one of the worst attempts at running away that I’ve seen, stumbling and bumbling around all over the shop again to the point of being too unrealistic. I know this kind of thing in chase scenes is something slashers are known for but it’s particularly noticeable here as being over the top.
Verdict: I find it a bit hard to believe that this was really made for just $500 as that seems a ridiculously low amount but if that is accurate then this is a good solid effort taking into account the many restrictions they must have faced. (Perhaps it was supposed to read $5000 on the IMDB but someone missed a zero off by accident). The look of the killer and the deaths in particular stand out and it doesn’t look really cheap visually either with the colours being vibrant and the picture clear. It is let down though by the story not being as developed as it could have been , too much comedy and also too much music and not enough dialogue. It is a decent effort though especially taking into account the budget so I’ll give it half marks based on what they’ve done for such a tiny amount of cash.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Lesbian girl #1: Impaled together with her partner against a tree.
2)Lesbian girl # 2: Impaled against the same tree as her partner.
3)Ernie: Strangled and then it appeared as if part of his body or flesh was cut off and eaten.
4)Betty: Picked up and swung face first into a tree.
5)Dolly: Decapitated with an axe.
6)Jason: Pick axe rammed through his torso.
7)Dilly: Impaled against a tree with the branch through her neck.
8)The killer: Head chopped off by Cindy with a sickle.
Cindy may also have died at the end at the hands/paws of the monster but that wasn’t properly revealed.