Well, it seems like I’ve picked the right movie to start my exploration of Polish cinema. Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight or W Lesie Dzis Nie Zasnie Nikt as is its original title is a solid homage to the seventies and eighties slashers. These movies seem to be quite popular in recent years. 2020 also saw the release of the Freaky and this year we’ve had the opportunity to check out numerous reboots. Most of them were quite bad. On the other hand, there were also several pretty good movies like The Babysitter and Final Girls. And we can add this one to the list as well. It’s a sturdy and fun slasher bound to keep your attention. It’s even funny at times and I especially liked how it poked fun at the religion and Nazi revival that’s quite strong in Poland. Nazi punks fuck off!
Set in the lush forests of Poland, Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight is a visually impressive horror movie. First of all, cinematography feels like it belongs to some mid-budget Hollywood production. Moreover, practical effects, including effective makeup, all look phenomenal. I mean, at times I was really blown away with what I was seeing here. And I also loved the fact they showcased the shit out of the killer. He’s basking in the sun for most of the time, giving us the opportunity to be grossed out by his gruesome looks. So, if you’re fearing that this is something with grainy and shaky footage, I have to tell you that’s not the case here. Although there’s a glorious retro VHS trailer available on Netflix with that vintage look.
Welcome to the 21st century, a century where everyone can’t let stop looking at their phone. This is especially true for teenagers, so the parents decide to take drastic measures and send them into a special camp in the woods. They have various activities to help them overcome this addiction among which is a three-day hike. So, the camp counselor divides them into smaller groups and off they go. Off they go not knowing that this hike will be the last for some of them.
First of all, I have to say that joint looked a bit too real. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of joints in movies and this one looked particularly authentic. Or I could be just seeing things at this point. The story is familiar and predictable, with just a few twists you can sort of feel coming. However, I consider this a plus, as you’re here to relax and watch something you feel comfortable with. Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight reminded me of similar setups in Wrong Turn and The Hills Have Eyes. Although the setting reminds me most of the British horror-comedy Severance. What’s quite original though, is the origin story of the killer. It’s got a certain Lovecraftian vibe to it, something that’s very much appreciated.
I almost forgot to mention something really important. Please watch this movie with the original Polish audio! If there’s one thing that I hate that’s the fucking dubbing! It just sucks the soul right out of the movie. Especially when you consider just how good these Polish actors are. Julia, Michal, and Wiktoria were all phenomenal and played their roles pitch-perfect. Something that’s quite difficult to pull off if you’re making this sort of a movie. A movie that’s not taking itself too seriously and yet it features strong emotional reactions and gore. And there will be gore here, be sure of that.
I also think that Bartosz M. Kowalski is one of those directors who’s going to take the world by storm if only he gets the chance to do so. So keep an eye out for his next projects. Finally, you should know that there’s a sequel for this movie Don’t Sleep in the Woods Tonight 2 available for streaming on Netflix right now. Released in 2021, it seems to feature a slightly different story but with the same vibes, so you might wanna check it out. I know I will.
Director: Bartosz M. Kowalski
Writers: Bartosz M. Kowalski, Jan Kwiecinski, Mirella Zaradkiewicz
Cast: Julia Wieniawa-Narkiewicz, Michal Lupa, Wiktoria Gasiewska, Stanislaw Cywka, Sebastian Dela, Gabriela Muskala
Fun Facts: The filming took 23 days, with about 8 scenes per day.