Loony in the Woods is a British movie filmed in the mid 2000s by Leo Leigh (a.k.a. Leo Bill). He might look familiar to some of you; He's had small roles in movies such as 28 Days Later and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. He's got one of those faces that causes you to instinctively narrow your eyes at when you first spot him, trying to place why he looks so familiar. This movie seems to be an homage to the video nasties that caused so much controversy in England in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, video nasties lived up to their nickname the vast majority of the time, so the end result of this throwback is not a very nice movie.
The plot revolves around a group of lunatics and their camping trip to the woods, in which they are systematically murdered by a laughing man in a ski mask. That's all there is to it really. The movie is filled with non-sequiturs and there is no attempt to include things such as well defined characters or plot. They go to the woods and hang out, doing mostly normal camping activities; singing around campfires, cooking food, going for walks in nature, until the movie decides that it's getting bored and kills them off. The fact that this group of weirdos just wants to go out to the woods and do these mundane things got quite a few laughs out of me.
The characters are all crazy; They ricochet back and forth between endearing/goofy/psychotic at the flip of a switch. The lead, played by Leo himself, is a real piece of work. He's an aerobics instructor who seems to treat the group as his own personal harem/outlet for abuse. He subjects all of the people he knows to his sociopathic tendencies and yet they all still adore him. I've never seen stockholm syndrome on this level before. None of the other characters are much better, except for Buttons, the younger brother of Leo's character. He is probably the most grounded and sympathetic character in this movie and he's a man with a drum synthesizer permanently affixed to his neck. If you want characters that aren't bizarre and impossible to nail down to reality you might want to skip this.
I have to admit, even though this movie is really bad, I did get some enjoyment out of it. The sudden mood shifts of the characters can lead to some pretty entertaining moments due to the sheer ridiculousness of it, and the gore is pretty good for a movie that clearly had no budget. There's even one genuinely scary moment about 20 minutes in that got me, the only jump scare in the film, but maybe that's why it worked so well. It should also be noted that this movie was only physically released on VHS, so the version I watched on amazon had some tracking and color distortion that made me a bit nostalgic for the old days of renting bad horror movies from the local mom and pop video store.
Loony in the Woods isn't high art. I'm sure there's an argument to be made to describe it as satire, but I'm not on board with that. That being said, it's only 70 minutes long and there's always someone cracking a joke or doing something so incredibly out of character that you can't help but laugh at the absurdity of it all. So bad that it's good?