Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight 2, for better or worse, tries to step away from the traditional slasher atmosphere of its predecessor.
Just over twelve months ago, I saw a movie called Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight. A flick that claimed to be Poland’s first ever slasher movie. That alone activated my curiosity, but when I also learnt it was a 2020 production (being released by Netflix, no less), I was intrigued beyond what my simple vocabulary may describe. After watching the movie, I found that it was difficult to recommend to those who are not outspoken about their love for the subgenre. But, for those happily enamored with that particular corner of cinema, it offered occasional originality amongst references and archetypes that were sure to tickle any appetite for more slasher fare. Ultimately, I reached the conclusion that what originally drew me to Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight was its one great feature: it presented the opportunity to engage with a world-first movie, from the comfort of a sofa.
In the present day I have recently seen a 2021 movie called Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight 2, and I was drawn to doing so because the movie claims to be Poland’s first ever slasher movie sequel. For better or worse, this entry strives a lot harder to break from slasher traditionalism than its predecessor did. There are critics out there who don’t like it when modern horror movies do this, but there are also critics out there who praise horror movies for stepping away from their foundations. Personally, I don’t care much for legacies. I generally prefer to gorge my eyes on new stuff. However, if there was going to be an exception to that preference, it would be for slasher movies. I find comfort and enjoyment in watching slashers whose characters I’ve likely met before in a different movie, and whose plot-twists I’ve probably followed somewhere else.
In its desire to innovatively break from the formula, Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight 2 does something that I did not particularly enjoy. I shall write about this first – so as to get it over and done with. The movie almost immediately flips the usual slasher script by establishing the self-aware male protagonist (named Adas, and performed by Mateusz Więcławek), and his desire for a coworker (named Wanessa, and performed by Zofia Wichłacz), via a dream in which the two snog after Adas saves Wanessa from some vampires. Due to this one-sided relationship, when Wanessa then opposes Adas during several moments in the narrative, she is antagonistically portrayed. This of course means she doesn’t quite make it as far through the night as Adas does, and her demise may well have been caused by her refusal to follow the orders of her professional inferior.
The slashers I prefer generally have a sort of morally-complex catharsis to them. In seeing the final girl either outrun, outlive, or outsmart the unstoppable force that has murdered her friends and foes alike, I feel a bizarre sort of peace. My repeated watching of slashers that seat me alongside a specifically unextraordinary woman, who then – against all odds – survives the oncoming massacre, means the next time I watch Final Exam, or House on Sorority Row (for example), I know what’s coming. I can look forward to the relief that comes when the protagonist lives through the ordeal, and to the ironically grounded feeling I get when pondering the question: “but at what cost?” Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight 2 features none of that.
Holding this as a negative against the movie, however, is definitely due to my defensive slasher-fan biases, and so might not be the sacrilege to others as it is to me. I am glad to say though, I did not find Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight 2 stepping away from the established slasher rules entirely to my disliking. The narrative of the movie remains within the original setting, with new characters even revisiting a specific location from the first entry. Plenty of slasher sequels exert themselves lifting up their central characters to drop them in an entirely new locale, and I was glad when Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight 2 didn’t. I also appreciated that the score, composed by Radzimir Dębski, brought some modern elements to sequences that in any other contemporary slasher may have been without musical accompaniment, or overfilled with Carpenter-esque synth sounds.
There’s then a narrative event in Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight 2 kick-starting the third act that is so committed to its concept I can’t help but respect it. It presents an almost total shift in tonality, occurring so that the narrative can go on to explore the comedic perspective of the “bad guys” and highlight the fickleness of their victims. It also then concludes a narrative arc from the first movie in a manner I could not have expected, and brings together characters from both entries that in any other slasher duology would absolutely have never met. This tonal shift does unfortunately bear its own predictable narrative beats, and in focussing upon its current protagonist undoes character motivations from the previous movie. Despite that, I can only commend the movie’s efforts to double-down on individuality – even if my enjoyment may have suffered for it.
Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight 2 is now available to watch on Netflix.