March 29, 2018 Dark Forest (Movie Review)
How many people remember the days of Slasher flicks? Come on, everyone who grew up in the ’80s more than likely scanned the Horror film section in the video tape store, taking in the compelling artwork of some creepy looking films. Well, those days have sadly come and gone, but there are still many young filmmakers looking to capture the gritty nature of a good ole Slasher, even three decades after their heyday.
Making his debut as a director and writer, Robert Boyer’s Dark Forest is a new Canadian Slasher that centers itself aesthetically to that of genre from 1980s. Taking influence from classics such as 1980’s Friday the 13th, and less known films such as 1981’s Don’t Go in the Woods, you could rattle off a list of films with a very similar theme. As for Dark Forest, it is a low budget project that played theatrically across Western Canada in 2015. Now, 3 years later, picked up by Indie Rights, it became available on Blu-ray/DVD on Tuesday, February, 13, 2018. It has the kind of era-throwback charm that would normally excite traditional Horror movie fans, but does it live up to those that have come before it?
Following a simple story of a weekend camping trip in the woods that turns into a fight for survival, in the end it is very predictable, and at times cliche. It all starts when a girl named Emily (Laurel McArthur in her debut) decides she has had enough of her abusive boyfriend Peter (Dennis Scullard: The Daydream 2013, Run! 2016). Her going on a weekend camping trip appears to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Naturally, things do not go all to well for all parties involved.
Truth be told, it is surprising that a film with such a compelling title and story idea offers little to no imagination for its plot. How could have it been better? Well, production wise, more could have been done to make Dark Forest an overall tighter product, from the editing right down to a better choice of a film score. Usually new actors can offer at least a fraction of a good performance, but the lackluster dialogue between the characters in the film does not help. Additionally, the lack of character development makes Dark Forest, at times, a hard watch.
Additionally, while the cinematography is charming at times, bringing Horror lovers back to those beloved Slashers of old, painful transition sequences, poorly executed cinematic kills, lack of scare quality, and prolonged build-up make it difficult for the film to find a flow. However, the cinematography of Boyer and Craig Guiboche really does captures the beauty of the locale and landscapes in Canada.
All this in mind, the biggest disappointment with Dark Forest lies in the fact that there are a lot of missed opportunities. From a lot of misleading reviews and empty promises attached to Dark Forest, many may feel a bit let down by this indie film. That really depends on the viewer, some may actually find Dark Forest entertaining. There are parts which are creepy enough, along with a real vintage feel as well.
To be fair, this was a first for Robert Boyer, and perhaps his future projects will benefit from experience. In his defense, Boyer tries to keep the charm of early Slashers alive, just falls a bit short. Think of this as a stepping stone for the young filmmaker. Only for the most dedicated of Horror fans, CrypticRock gives Dark Forest 1.5 out of 5 stars.