Directed by Jason Horton
Upon starting Monsters in the Woods, you come across a ridiculously bad scene of a woman being attacked by a bird-faced man-monster in hokey make-up. It’s laughably bad. The acting and effects are so lame that you exhale with relief when it’s revealed you’ve been set up and were actually watching a film crew shooting a movie with the introductory scene for Monsters in the Woods being a scene the film crew is working on. Veteran actor Glenn Plummer sweeps in and saves the opening act. You get the feeling that Monsters in the Woods might be an intelligent indie gem. You would be horribly wrong.
The film revolves around a director forced to add scenes to what he felt was an already perfect film. We view the action through the lens of a cameraman shooting behind-the-scenes footage for the DVD version of the film. Now on a mission to add sex and violence to his movie, director Jayson (Plummer) finds himself in the wilderness, working with an inept crew, annoying actors and the presence of something lurking over the production. He does his best to hold things together, get his shots and get out. But it doesn’t work out that way.
As a viewer you could deal with this. The film is a bit disjointed, but things could be pulled together and sorted out, making for a quality project. Unfortunately, while in that limbo-like state where the viewer hasn’t yet developed an opinion on the film, things go horribly, horribly wrong. They remove the strongest character from the film in an absolutely ridiculous scene which sends things into a downward spiral. Halfway through the film they inexplicably ditch the handheld camera format and go with traditional filming, which is fine, except what they film doesn’t make much sense.
I kept hoping for this film to turn things around as I had a feeling it was smarter, much smarter, than it turned out to be. It suddenly goes from a film about a movie crew combating each other while being stalked by monsters they are unaware of to an epic tale of angels, demons and sold souls. It’s way too much to cram into a low-budget creature feature, especially midway through.
The best features of the film are the least used. Glenn Plummer as the director has by far the best performance. And the actual monsters in the woods are cool in a “guy in a rubber monster suit” type of way. But instead of just making them monsters, they become “soul-eating Hellhounds” that would devour every human essence on Earth if not stopped. Some additional screen time for either the beasts or the director would have been an improvement. Instead we are treated to unrealistic conversations between characters (some of whom are dropped in halfway through the film in an entirely new story arc) and effects that really don’t work.
Unfortunately, the longer this film goes on, the more ridiculous it becomes. What starts out with some real potential, focusing on strained relationships between characters forced to be in the wilderness together to finish a film, disintegrates into something laughable and then too sad to laugh about. I wanted to like it. I was rooting for the filmmakers to make a smart play and turn things around. It just never happens. Not even close.
Monsters in the Woods leaves much to be desired. Aside from the aforementioned quality, albeit brief, performance by Glenn Plummer and hokey but lovable monsters, there’s not much to take from this one. The main shortcoming of the film is its lack of focus. If it had only concentrated on the initial concept, it could have been good. Even the rubber suit monsters would have worked as they look pretty decent (kind of like a more mobile version of Brundlefly). Things just get out of hand with the characters constantly being mired in long, pointless conversations and the story becoming ridiculous. It simply doesn’t work.
1 out of 5