Friday, December 09, 2011

Monsters in the Woods and The Source of All Evil (Producers): A Movie Review

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*a screener of this film was provided by Osiris Entertainment.

**here be some spoilers.

Director/writer: Jason Horton.

Cast: Lee Perkins, Linda Bella, Curt Mega and Paul Misko.

This film should really have been called Angels and Hellhounds. With that aside, Jason Horton's fifth film as director takes place in Big Bear National Park where a film crew is shooting a low budget horror movie. Their film then turns into a real horror film when an earthquake releases hounds from hell onto the set. Now, the crew is chased down by a host of creatures that look more like walking crabs than anything else. Meanwhile, dir. Horton satirizes his real life as a low budget filmmaker through the character Jayson (Glen Plummer).

At the black heart of this film is the producer Bravo (Blaine Cade). It seems that hell has released him temporarily from below. He will be brought back to the netherworld unless he can secure twelve souls for the demons he is working for. This means that Bravo will have to murder several of the crew members while the others try to figure out why everyone keeps disappearing. A few characters lose their face or are splattered in blood before they put two and two together. All of the action begins after director Jayson (Glenn Plummer) succumbs to an accidental death via a boom crane. Hilariously, the crew continues the shoot without him and without burying his body until there are no more cast members left to perform scenes.

Some of those cast members include Burt (Edward Hendershott), the temporary hero and Ashley (Linda Bella), the desperate starlette. Burt ties to put a stop to Bravo's plan, but the supernatural is more powerful than the physical. Ashley has already given herself over to the devil's evil plan. As well, Bravo is duplicitous and this character seems to be a symbol of all that is wrong with Hollywood - producers. Jayson, the director in the film, only gets a few scenes to shout at his incompetent crew before the bloodbath begins and this reviewer would have liked to have seen Plummer (Speed) last a little longer.

Horton is quite clever in this production as he switches genres a third of the way through the film. At first, Monsters in the Woods seems like a docudrama or a film within a film. However, things change early. The film transitions into a horror styled film similar to a creature feature, when the hellhounds are released. The satire is also here as microphones break at inopportune times or as the script reader feeds the actor's their forgotten lines. This blend of genres made the film feel smart to this reviewer. Much of that intelligence comes through in the quick repartee. Unfortunately, a lot of that repartee involves unnecessary and constant cursing.

Horror fans will enjoy the gore here and there are some elements of evil here too. The special effects department concentrates on splashing the blood around, or creating caves that look very similar to female genitalia. The costumes of the actual monsters are well done and the make-up effects range from torn faces to impaled characters. All of the effects look well done and believable to shocking affect.

In the end, director Horton satirizes his life as a low budget filmmaker in Monsters in the Woods. His difficulties with real life ambitious actresses, inept actors, talentless crew members and scheming money grubbing producers all get their sensationalized time on the screen. At least he can laugh at it, right? And this film might be comparable to the first Cabin Fever film with its use of dark comedy to keep things funny and bloody. Although not comparable in budget to Cabin Fever, Monsters in the Woods was a lot better than this reviewer expected; horror fans will not be let down by this film as Horton shows his expertise in the horror realm. Finally, indie film fans might laugh along with Horton as he pokes fun at an industry that could use a few more films like the one seen here.

Overall: 7 out of 10 (funny, gory, lampoons the studio system, plays on stereotypes, too much swearing).

*this title releases January 2012 on video-on-demand through Gravitas Ventures e.g. Comcast. The DVD release will be sponsored for this film in 2012 through Osiris Entertainment.

Check out the Monsters in the Woods homepage here w/trailer:

The Monsters in the Woods Official Website

The Monsters in the Woods fan page:

The Monsters in the Woods at Facebook

The film w/more plot details at Osiris Entertainment

Monsters in the Woods at Osiris

"My Life as a Low Budget Movie Maker" - Dir. Jason Horton's personal Blog:

Director Jason Horton's Blog

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