Don’t Go in the Woods


The first thing one notices about the five stars of Don’t Go in the Woods, introduced jamming in the back of a van on their way to a camping trip, is that they’re no great shakes as actors. The forced horseplay is entirely without ensemble chemistry, probably because the leads were hired principally as singers/musicians, as this, the directorial debut of former Law & Order: Criminal Intent star Vincent D’Onofrio, is that rarest of mongrel movies: a slasher/musical. Taskmaster leader Nick (Matt Sbeglia) drags the members of his small-time Brooklyn band upstate—with no booze, drugs, girls, and even cell phones—for a crash songwriting camp conducted in remote woods that are, unbeknownst to them, haunted by an elusive killer. Sbeglia’s MySpace music page lists him as “Acoustic/Emo/Indie,” which describes the musical bill of fare here. These “numbers” take precedence over the carelessly handled horror elements, while the further tacked-on music-biz “satire” is completely unhip to contemporary rock-band mores. Dwarfed by the baroque camp of Brian De Palma’s horror musical Phantom of the Paradise, Don’t Go in the Woods is cozily resigned to its novelty niche but an affront to fans of the genres it bowdlerizes.