Kids Go to the Woods…Kids Get Dead (2009) Review

Kids Go to The Woods...Kids Get DeadBy Michael Juvinall,

Starring: Leah Rudick, Andrew Waffenschmidt, Joseph Campellone, Carly Goodspeed, Meghan Miller, Eric Carpenter, Amanda Rising, and Kevin Shea
Written and Directed by: Michael Hall

I have to give first time writer/director Michael Hall a lot of credit for trying some interesting approaches to his film, Kids Go to the Woods…Kids Get Dead. The film is meant to be a return to the slasher film style of the 1980’s, with lots of blood, lots of sex and nudity, and laughs (some intentional, some not). Hall was aiming for a throwback film reminiscent of early 80’s shockers such as Friday the 13th, The Prowler, or virtually any masked slasher film ever made, and for the most part he succeeded.

What makes Hall’s attempt somewhat unique is that he tries to give the film a late-night cable feel to it with a sultry, wise-cracking hostess in a series of vignettes spread throughout the film mimicking commercial breaks and complete with cheap looking commercials, static, and quick shots of home movies made to look like Kids Get Dead was taped over something on a VHS tape. While this approach is inventive if only for the nostalgia it tries to emulate, it falls flat for this reviewer and was more of an annoyance than anything else.

The film begins with Candy Adams (Carly Goodspeed) channeling her inner Rhonda Shear as the super flirty late show hostess as she introduces the night’s film, Kids Go to the Woods…Kids Get Dead. Cut to the beginning of the real film as we are introduced to Casey (Leah Rudick-Bloody Mary), the “virgin” and her brother Scott (Andrew Waffenschmidt), the “loner” as they are heading out to a cabin in the woods for her birthday along with a group of her friends.

Rounding out the cliché ridden cast is hunky, Derrick (Eric Carpenter-Gossip Girl) as Casey’s sex starved boyfriend who is constantly trying to persuade her into having sex. Tom (Seth Stephens) is the comical, beer drinking sex fiend. His girlfriend Heather (Meghan Miller) constantly berates him for being a sexual pig, yet sleeps with him at the drop of a dime. We also have a lesbian couple thrown into the mix for good measure.

A mysterious, killer (Joesph Campellone-Visitor in the Dark) wearing a gas mask attached to air tanks shows up to spoil the gangs fun. The weekend really turns bloody as the group has to survive the viscious attacks by the killer and the only one who has any ideas on how to survive is Scott due to a horror novel he’s reading with the same title as the film’s, which mysteriously mimics the real life horrors they now are facing.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a weekend getaway in the woods without the usual horror movie tropes including sex, drugs, and a maniacal potbellied killer.

Kids Get Dead is not an awful film, but it won’t win any contests anytime soon. It was actually better than I was expecting, so I’ll give it that. The acting is not great and unintentionally comical at times, but the best performances come from Leah Rudick as Casey and Andrew Waffenschmidt as Scott, those two make it more watchable. Honorable mention would have to go to Carla Goodspeed for really nailing the essence of a vampy, late-night horror host.

The make-up FX are passable, the gore is limited by the budget, but overall not too bad. There is one comical and very well written kill scene I absolutely loved where a couple is having sex with the killer performing “coitus interruptus” with hilarious results.
I really enjoyed the cinematography as it showed a level of professionalism usually absent from these films. Most of the shots are framed extremely well with once scene in particular that stood out when Casey is hiding from the killer; there is a split scene of her hiding in a closet and the killer searching the room for her.

Unfortunately, the killer is laughable throughout the film. There is not one iota of fright that comes from a big, potbellied killer in a gas mask which is too bad because in these films, the killer is what makes it work.

I got what director Michael Hall was going for, trying to create a throwback 80’s style slasher flick and I give him points for originality, and it was a worthy attempt. Kids Go to the Woods…Kids Get Dead has its problems, fans of the slasher films Hall was trying to pay homage to will enjoy a watch, and others will probably not understand the sentiment and hate it. So I say, it’s worthy of a rental, you just might be surprised.

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