28th Feb2023

‘Something in the Woods’ Review

by James Rodrigues

Stars: Nicole Cinaglia, Vienna Hayden, Robbie Dias, Dakota Jans, Jared Rivet | Written by Deanna Gomez | Directed by Alex T. Hwang

An early news report provides the film’s backstory, as a U.S. Senator committed suicide after a report was released detailing his involvement with drug trafficking. After her expose’s release, writer Nora Thompson (Nicole Cinaglia) is excited by the wider engagement her social media has received as a result. Her enjoyment is shattered when she’s taken hostage by Carolyn Morrison (Vienna Hayden), the senator’s vengeful daughter who subsequently lost her inheritance. As they venture into the woods, a creature stalking them forces the pair to work together to survive.

Director Alex T. Hwang sets his sights on delivering a tense scenario, as these two characters must rely on whatever they can find in the unforgiving elements for protection. The reality is far less promising, as there’s too much artifice preventing the film from having a shred of tension. The first issue lies in Nora, who’s meant to be the protagonist the audience sides with throughout this ordeal, yet she’s hindered by vapid characterisation.

As the enemies are forced to unite, Deanna Gomez’s script attempts to form mutual respect as the pair overcome their differences. This is done by rapidly papering over Carolyn committing abduction and attempted murder, all because this drug-trafficking heiress couldn’t take over her father’s criminal activities. When later dialogue about the characters being hunted tries equating Nora being chased by the creature to the drug trafficker’s criminal activities being exposed, it feels downright insulting to expect audiences to eat it up.

Much of the creature is shown through their point-of-view, an interesting tactic to get into the monstrous mindset in the thick of the situation while leaving their appearance to viewers’ imaginations. It’s unfortunate this wasn’t retained throughout the 75-minute runtime, as the effects work and design is embarrassing to see. If a Gorilla with elongated limbs was crossed with the Whitewalkers from Game of Thrones, animated in the style of The Scorpion King from 2001’s The Mummy Returns, while being less interesting than that combination sounds, that’s this film’s driving force.

Nothing about the creature feels like a tangible threat, as it stalks one-note characters inhabited by a cast seemingly instructed to imitate Joey Tribbiani’s “Smell the fart” acting style, while delivering perfunctory lines which feel written by an A.I. This all occurs within oddly framed scenes, changing between focusing on background scenery, to the shots being out of focus. It feels like something a student would make with their friends that would never see the light of day, as opposed to a film released to the general public for rental.

½ 0.5/5

Something in the Woods is out now from Uncork’d Entertainment.


Comments are closed.