A group of Polish teens are sent to what is called an “Offline Camp,” where they are to spend time out in the wilderness, bereft of cell phones, tablets, and computers. It seems that each of these troubled kids have some sort of addictive dependency on modern technology, and they’ve been sent here to be reformed and changed. The activities involve hiking and all sorts of nature stuff. Oh, and talking to one another. The film follows a group that goes out on a hike and encounters something very deadly in the woods, so deadly that their scout leader is soon, uh, incapacitated and they are on their own. A pair of twins—mutated men with lesions and deformities—is stalking them after a couple of the kids stumble upon their isolated cabin in the woods. The kids are on the menu now, and they must figure out a way to team up and either escape or fight back. Will they survive this encounter in the woods, or will the twisted twins have them for dinner?
This is an interesting movie. It starts out by introducing us to our main characters and does so with some sentimental charm and humor. But an atmosphere of dread hangs over everything, as evidenced by lingering shots of tall trees bending in the wind, and various moments in nature as the night falls. What could have simply been the Polish version of Wrong Turn instead takes on a whole different tone and feel. Sure, there’s some slapstick gore in here, and the blood does flow mightily, but they take the time out to make us care for these confused teens, to really get to know them in the few minutes we have with them. And then the slaughter starts. Yeah, it takes a couple of turns that elicited more of an “ugh” from me than a “cool twist,” and everything is fairly predictable. No new ground is broken here and like me, you won’t be blown away with how clever this is or how original. However, it is well-made and damned good in its own right, with a couple of nasty, brutal kills to hang its hat on. It is the atmosphere and the care for the characters that really sets it apart.
Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight almost carries itself like a perverse fairy tale, especially when we get the backstory of the twisted twin brothers and why they are the way they are. And while much of the film might play out like any other common American backwoods slasher, there’s something about the Polishness of this that works in its favor. I say give it a spin. It’s a good, solid, basic little horror thriller. Yeah, you’ve seen it all before, but this one has its own unique swagger.