KIDS GO TO THE WOODS… KIDS GET DEAD
Before I even get started with the review for this debut 80’s style slasher film from first time director Michael Hall, just look at that artwork! What a fantastic movie title and concept artwork from those involved with this independent slasher. This was officially released back in 2009. I purchased the dvd several months ago but have just now got around to watching it.
Kids Go To The Woods, Kid’s Get Dead is a slasher film that pays homage to everything you have seen in this genre over the last 30 years. It’s Casey’s (Leah Rudick) birthday and her boyfriend’s best friend has organised a relatives cabin situated in the woods so the group can celebrate the occasion with a weekend away. Along for the ride is Casey’s boyfriend Derrick (Eric Carpenter) his best friend Brad, his girlfriend Heather and their lesbian friends Jill and Lisa. Scott is Casey’s nerdy brother he begrudgingly tags along. Before they arrive they are warned by ex-vietnam vet and local store clerk Llyod (Kevin Shea), about kids who have disappeared in the area recently. However, the group doesn’t think anything of it until events in a slasher novel Scott is reading start to come true and someone is out to kill in these woods. This is a comedy/horror film that parodies all the familiar tropes we see in this genre and it knows that’s exactly what it is.
The film also stars Andrew Waffenschmidt, Joseph Campellone, Carly Goodspeed, Meghan Miller, Amanda Rising and many more.
Like I said there is a great catchy title and some killer artwork that really help market this low-budget slasher film. Kids Go To The Woods manages to earn respect through its technical aspects of filmmaking more so than the story itself, at least in my opinion. The camera work is very impressive given the lack of experience and micro-budget. Fyi, anyone interested in learning how to shoot a campfire scene have a word to Michael Hall, because he can show you how it’s done. There are countless number of low-budget slasher films that incorporate the cliché campfire scene and get it oh so wrong two things normally happen the camera zooms up far too close to the actor’s faces and the noise from the crackling fire overpowers the dialogue audio. Speaking of audio, its crystal clear in this one. Even when characters are conversing with each other out of the frame, you can still hear what’s being said and that is very rare. It’s also very smooth in transitioning between scenes.
I found the cast mostly convincing in their respective roles. You can tell these actors and actresses lack experience but they make up for it with natural chemistry amongst the group. The film has a certain amount of campyness to it, but it works. The professionalism mostly shines through in the work behind the scenes and the great production value. This is estimated at around $10,000 and it feels like ten times that budget, you would never know, so don’t let the lack of money put you off. I thought the blood and gore effects were mostly pretty good. I think the action scenes and various ways in which the characters are killed off could have been changed somewhat, but overall it’s really fun and there is plenty of the red stuff!
Most of what we get in Kids Go To The Woods is impressive but not all of it. I think even though its only around 82 minutes, it lags in the middles of the film. Half of the cheesy Pg-13 dialogue could have been cut between the second and third acts. Once the final act rolls around the climax with Casey and our masked killer seems to go on and on too. The several attempts to kill him become a little more far-fetched than first thought because he just won’t die! I think that the character of Candy Adams was played well by Goodspeed but it added nothing to the mix other than a bit of extra eye candy (pardon the pun haha) I think it was mostly just a nod from Michael’s days of watching cable slasher movies. I am not from the United States so we have never had that here. To be honest that aspect of the film took me out of it several times and distracted me from what was otherwise a very entertaining flick.
I think both the music choices and score were very bland. There wasn’t anything that stood out to me in that department, which is disappointing. It would have been great to hear a 70’s and 80’s synth style backing track. A lot of the comedy also becomes a little crass after a while and it can be a very hard thing to write successfully into a horror script. It shows here with some of it definitely missing the mark. Personally I didn’t have an issue with the look of the killer but it’s hard not to draw a huge comparison between this film and the 80’s classic “My Bloody Valentine”. The costume department could have at least tried something a little different with the look(haha). Majority of the characters were really fun to sit back and watch but the credibility was stretched with the character of Scott. I mean no single person is that stupid and puts up with that amount of crap from somebody, no matter who they are trying to please. It’s a movie though so I guess I can swallow that.
Kids Go To The Woods… Kids Get Dead takes me back to the wonder that was 80’s low-budget filmmaking. Some of my favourite films of the genre come from that time period, sadly I didn’t see most of them until the 90’s due to being a product of the latter. This has pretty much everything you want to see as a fan of the genre. Support these low-budget indie films because there are a bunch of hidden gems out there, you just need to know where to look. Below is a link to the film, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy and keep on the look out for my next review of “Kids Get Dead 2” the 2014 follow-up!
My rating for “Kids Go To The Woods.. Kids Get Dead” is 6/10