Luis I. Garza’s “Murder in the Woods” A Bloody Good Time


Soon after arriving to a mysterious cabin in the woods, a group of teens discover the dark secret it holds, which forces them to fight for their lives.

LATIN HORROR According to the 2015 NPR article, “Why Latinos Love Horror Films,” nearly, “…half the box office” of horror film ticket sales comes from Latino moviegoers. With such a hunger for horror films, comes an equally strong desire from this fanbase, to see horror films include Latino characters, filmmakers, and/or storylines. Murder in the Woods, covers all of these areas, thanks to its collaboration between writer and producer, Yelyna De León,and director Luis I. Garza.

Writer and producer, Yelyna De León, and director Luis I. Garza.

While working on their master degrees at the USC film school, De León and Garza were putting together possible film projects which included leading and non-stereotypical roles for Latinos. Pulling together their resources, investors, and inspirations, they saw the potential of creating a low budget slasher mystery horror film. Horror, unlike most film genres, can actually benefit from a low budget, inspiring filmmakers to become more creative with their content. This scenario has created groundbreaking chills and thrills, such as Night of the Living Dead and Paranormal Activities.  

Murder in the Woods follows six teenage friends, who drive from Los Angeles to an isolated cabin, in Topanga Canyon, for an all-out birthday bash. While indulging in intoxicating and sensuous fun, a mysterious assailant torments the friends. Now, they all must work together and fight back, before they all lose their heads.

The prolific Danny Trejo in Luis I. Garza’s ‘Murder in the Woods,’ which shines a light on Latino talent.

According to De León’s Horror Talk interview, Murder in the Woods the first American horror film to feature, “an all-American Latino cast, to have lead characters in non-stereotypical roles.” The main cast features Chicano cinematic legend Danny Trejo as Sheriff Lorenzo, along with the main six young people, including José Julián (Narcos: Mexico), Jeanette Samano (Reversion), Chelsea Rendon (Vida), Catharine Toribio (Jane the Virgin), Kade Wise (Empire), and Jordan Diambrini (Jane the Virgin). The supporting cast features Soledad St. Hailaire (Real Women Have Curves), De Leon (Will & Grace), Rolando Molina (Next Friday), Kurt Caceres (Prison Break), and newcomer Max Chavarria.

This indie thrasher horror film combines two classic horror storylines, being isolated in a cabin in the middle of the woods (Cabin Fever) and an unknown killer on the run killing a group of young people (I Know What You Did Last Summer).

When writing the script for Murder in the Woods, De León drew from her early horror influences from her grandmother’s ghost stories. She expressed how, “This movie is a love letter to her” grandmother. On long Greyhound bus road trips every Summer, from her native Chicago, Illinois to Tampica, Tamaulipas, Mexico, De Leon’s grandmother would tell her scary Mexican folk stories. Every story came with a moral, encouraging De Leon to behave, or else.

Murder in the Woods is a refreshing take of beloved horror storylines, seamlessly blending in cultural references, funny moments, and blood. Considering the lack of representation of Latinos in American horror films, especially Latino Americans, this brings a deeply desired Latino diversity to the screen. Overall, Murder in the Woods is a bloody good time.

The trailer for Luis I. Garza’s ‘Murder in the Woods.’

Now playing nationwide in select drive-ins and in theatre. Also available now on digital download and VOD.

For tickets and further film information:

Rated R

This article was originally published at LATIN HEAT, a property of Latin Heat Media, on August 18, 2020 and republished here with the permission of our partner site. You can view the original article HERE.

Justina Bonilla
Justina is a Mexican-American freelance writer and journalist based in Orange County, CA. She has written for a number of publications. Currently, she is also a contributing writer for Latin Heat Entertainment. In her spare time, she volunteers as a film blog writer for the non-profit arthouse cinema, The Frida Cinema, in Santa Ana, CA. Her areas of expertise include retro pop-culture (film, music, and television), Golden Age of Hollywood, cult-films, classic horror films, Latino American cinema, Latin horror films, and the history of American rock ‘n’ roll.

Fabián Forte brings classic supernatural horror scares with the ‘LEGIONS’ trailer

Previous article


Next article


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Login/Sign up