OCTOBER 1, 2009
At the end of this film you find out it was all a dream.
Now, I hate to spoil a movie’s ending without any warning, but I feel in the case of The Woods Have Eyes I must, because the movie’s ending spoils what was otherwise a passable entry in the never-ending series of low-budget “kids running afoul of redneck murderers” movie. I’m sure there are cases where the “all a dream” ending actually pays off, but I cannot think of any off the top of my head, and in this movie’s case specifically, it actually ruins it. So I feel it's my duty to point it out, lest you find yourself enjoying it only to have your enthusiasm crushed by yet another filmmaker who either A. is a fool, or B. has no balls.
See, the reason that the movie was sort of working for me was due to the fact that our heroes were young kids. There are two that seem about 17, and the other four seem to be about 14. It’s odd and at times even disturbing to see kids that probably haven’t even finished puberty yet getting impaled and such. Plus, all of their parents are characters in the movie (it takes place at a summer hideaway type place), so the end, before the unfortunate twist, we get a bunch of hysterical parents wailing about the death of their children. It’s really grim and depressing, and I was impressed that the film would go into that territory (as I’ve said before, grief is rarely depicted in a horror film unless it’s part of what kicks off the plot, such as the first Final Destination). But the dream shit nullifies all of that goodwill.
Because really, it was all that the movie had going for it. The rest was pretty plodding and, it goes without saying, generic. Wrong Turn seems to be a particular influence, especially when the kids read carefully preserved newspaper clippings in the bad guys' house, and then get trapped there when the villains return earlier than expected. There are also not one, not two, but THREE fucking scenes in a ten minute span in which the kids all hide under some brush while a redneck investigates a few feet away.
Not helping matters is director/writer Anthony Indelicato giving himself a role as the sheriff, leading a bunch of fairly lousy cops around the woods looking for the kids. Of course they never stop to really think that “Cappy”, the redneck who answers the door covered in blood (he claims it’s from a buck) might be killing kids as well. They also never really split up I guess, since most of the scenes with them involve like 6 or 7 cops standing around telling each other that they haven’t found anything. These scenes all suck and stink of obvious padding, which is a problem when the film is only like 80 minutes long to begin with and, again, already has enough repetition in the scenes with the kids.
I was somewhat tickled by the light homoeroticism on display, though. Not only is the only female character left behind so these six guys can go into the woods together, but two of the kids also skinny dip for no reason. Plus, one guy keeps rubbing another one’s back (and practically spoons him later on when they sleep under some brush), and our main kid spends most of the climax shirtless. Victor Salva will love this movie.
And some of it just made me laugh (not intentional), such as when a redneck fires a shotgun at the group of kids, who are standing maybe 30 feet away, and manages to only graze one of their cheeks. Or early on, during a prank scene, when one of them puts on what is clearly a Freddy Krueger mask turned inside out to avoid any licensing issues. The Blu-Ray disc itself was also hilariously cheap; the image quality wasn’t even up to par for a standard def DVD, making me wonder why they bothered spending the extra money to put it on a BR disc. It also doesn’t have a main menu screen, pressing the menu button will merely restart the film.
The film will restart after you watch either of the pitiful extra features, even if you watch them while the film is in progress via the pop-up menu (in short, Echo Bridge doesn’t have a fucking clue as to how to master a Blu-Ray disc). The first covers the film’s only real stunt of note, when one of the kids is pulled through a window (it’s also one of the film’s few legitimately decent scares), but it’s hardly interesting enough to justify a 5 minute piece. The other is a 7 minute gag reel in which I failed to find the humor in any of the “mistakes”, though I was amused by the fact that Indelicato seemingly has no patience for anyone flubbing their lines, except for himself, whose flubs are apparently a joyous laughing matter.
Oh, and how is this for confusion? The copyright on the film is 2005. The clapboard we see in the gag reel says 2006. IMDb has it as 2007. The DVD was manufactured in 2008. And I never heard of it until a few days ago, in 2009. Christ.
So if you simply must watch The Woods Have Eyes, possibly due to a mixup (it even uses the same font as Hills Have Eyes, lest you think the title similarity might just be a coincidence), I urge you to shut it off the second one of the kids is reunited with his girlfriend, and be left with “eh” instead of “Oh fuck you, movie”. That is, if you managed to make it that far to begin with (it’s about 30 minutes of “good god this sucks” badness before we get our first ultimately non-existent kill).
What say you?