Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight: An Interesting Look into Polish Horror.


The movies original Polish poster. (Akson Studio)

Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight is a Polish horror movie that was released publicly in Poland in the spring and came to American Netflix on October 28 in time for Halloween. I ended up watching this movie with a friend for one of our bad movie nights. We went into it expecting a “so bad it’s good” kind of horror movie, but it ended up being better than we thought it would be. While it’s not really a good movie—and I was only really scared by one scene—it does offer an interesting look into parts of Polish society, which I think makes it worth watching.

The movie starts with a group of five teenagers going to a technology-free camp in the woods in order to help with their technology addictions. While this was what initially made me believe this movie would be awful, there was actually very little time devoted to this element of the movie. I expected to be inundated with “technology is what’s ruining today’s youth” style preaching, but it didn’t really use the anti-technology aspect for anything other than giving a reason for the characters to be unable to call the police. The camp sends them into woods, as a sort of wilderness survival exercise, which is where the plot gains traction.  

The five main characters all fit into very common character archetypes, never really breaking from them. However I did find one of them to be more interesting than the rest: Bartek the closeted gay guy, whose character led to the movie’s relatively interesting discussion of what it’s like to be gay in Poland, as well it’s scariest scene. 

The movie is also ridiculously cheesy at times, which of course prevents it from being taken seriously, but does make it much more enjoyable. When the stereotypical popular hot girl is introduced, the slow motion shot of her letting her hair down feels like an early 2000s high school rom-com. 

The woods in this movie are absolutely gorgeous, which makes the otherwise-generic setting a little more fun to watch. The trees are ridiculously tall, colorful for fall, and very spaced out, giving the film an almost fake, eerie feeling—very different from the claustrophobic vibe most horror movies go with. The few buildings shown incorporate an interesting older style of architecture. The cottage the antagonists live in would actually be really cute if it wasn’t filled with dead bodies and maggots.

The main antagonists are two creepy, mutated monster guys. They definitely aren’t the most creative horror monsters by any measure, but, being covered in blisters and lumps, are certainly gross looking even if they’re not the most realistic. 

Three of the movie’s main characters. (Akson Studio)

There was only one scene that I found particularly scary. Without spoiling much, it addresses the homophobia that many LGBTQ+ Polish people experience, and while it’s not particularly gory, it was still the scene that left the largest impression on me. Although the scene wasn’t particularly disturbing, I’d recommend for people who are sensitive to depictions of homophobia to do research on it before watching.

While I wouldn’t necessarily consider this movie to be particularly good, it does offer an interesting look into certain aspects of Polish culture. I think that it’s worth watching if you have any interest in learning about what sort of themes other cultures find worthy of being put into a horror film.