Murder in the Woods: A diverse approach to the slasher film

With a diverse cast and visual nods to The Ranger and You’re Next, Murder in the Woods may be the next step in the slasher evolution.

When you watch Synapse Films’ 42nd Street Forever trailer compilations, its feels as though the 1960s – 1980s had no real uniformity to how trailers were assembled, so it was always a surprise as to what approach the producers would take in distilling a feature film down to 3 minutes. The new slasher, Murder in the Woods, is looking to shake up audience expectations.

As it goes with superheroes and ghosts, certain predetermined beats influence the highlights of latter-day trailers. And I get it: there’s solace to be found in the uniformity of things that promise exactly what we want. I understand the need to feel comforted by being able to just sit back and enjoy something for what it is.

So, just because I’m personally tired of slasher films doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for creativity within the subgenre.

Murder in the Woods promises to be of interest due to its all-LatinX cast, which automatically shakes up the characterizations of preexisting slashers, most of which center on Caucasians, with perhaps a token African-American thrown into the mix.

And while it’s difficult to make a standout slasher from the “group of teenagers going to an isolated cabin in the woods” premise, some of the visual nods in the trailer suggest director Luis Iga Garza and writer Yelyna de Leon are setting their sights a bit loftier than a run-of-the-mill Friday the 13th homage.

For instance, we start off with the teens being stopped by a park ranger played by Machete himself, Danny Trejo. In classic slasher fashion, he warns the group of danger, not unlike the stoic titular character in The Ranger. The bloody words on the window suggest You’re Next, and a few other intimations lean in the direction of the non-slasher epic, Cabin in the Woods.

So perhaps, like Cabin in the Woods and its knowingly on-the-nose title, maybe the also-obviously-titled Murder in the Woods has some unforeseen tricks up its sleeve.

Murder in the Woods will be released on Digital/VOD on Sept. 18. 

Let us know what you think of the Murder in the Woods trailer in the comments.