Monday, October 10, 2016

Into the Woods

While Netflix Instant Watch’s selection of horror films seems to focus on newer releases, Amazon Prime has a mix of no-budget newbies and, well, fairly terrible no-budget older-ies from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Following The Boogey Man, it seemed more than fitting to tackle 1982’s similarly cheaply made, non-remembered backwoods horror The Forest.

Quick Plot: A pair of hikers are brutally slaughtered on your average sunny day. Unrelated--FOR NOW--in the civilized part of traffic-congested town, pals named Steve and Charlie decide to go camping to get away from the hustle and bustle of society. Their respective wives, Sharon and Teddi, go all “women can do ANYTHING! even if we happen to be idiots” on them and take their own trip a day earlier. 

FEMINISM, amiright?

Naturally, the ladies learn that camping is HARD. Like, just LOOKING at the stakes you have to use to set up a tent makes the soundtrack do a “wha wha whaaaaa” tuba cue to make sure we get the gist. 

If they were ill-prepared to manage their equipment, you can imagine their skills when it comes to warding off a homicidal mountain cannibal. A pair of echo-voiced children offer some assistance, as their husbands trail behind and squabble in their own elegant way.

Written and directed by Don Jones, The Forest is a pretty terrible little movie. The pacing is bizarre, the characters are bland, and the actual tension is about as tight as the tent the women can’t figure out. And yet...

Look: I, like many a blogger, am a Generation MilleXial weaned on a decade of feeling like the smartest person in school for watching Mystery Science Theater 3000. As a result, I love--nay, ADORE--watching movies like The Forest. Never is this more true than when we learn what drove our murderous cannibal to his ways.

In the most atmosphere-free flashback of all time, we meet our cannibal killer’s former wife, a woman who constantly slept with every mechanic, salesman, and census taker that dared to ring her doorbell while her impotent husband was at work. When our soon-to-be cannibal killer discovers this, he first reacts with apathy, leaving the serviceman to exit the bedroom AND THEN GO AND TRY TO FIX THE HOUSE’S HEATING UNIT. 

That in itself sort of made the movie for me. Because I am simple like that. 

High Points
Any movie--particularly one made in the 1980s--that includes an earnest original title song crooned out with pain will earn some bonus points

Low Points
Aside from the characters being bland and horrid and the action being silly and non-involving, nothing

Lessons Learned
The woods are filled with bears and rapists

Splitting up is usually not a good idea--bonus points for this being spoken by an actual character (who of course, immediately then proceeds to split up)

Never bring a broken bicycle to a pitchfork fight

Deer is always in season when you’re hungry

Wet dirt is occasionally called “mud”

The Winning Line:
“Are you crazy?”
“OF COURSE I AM!” says the man who killed his wife, moved his kids to the woods, and has been eating human beings for the last few years

The Forest isn’t good. That doesn’t mean I don’t recommend it. If you want something of a certain cheese quotient from this time period, you can do worse. 

A ringing endorsement if there ever was one!


  1. I remember reading about The Forest and looking forward to seeing it. Then I saw it and I was both hugely disappointed and somehow enamored with it. You're absolutely right about the bizarre pacing. The Lucy and Ethel/Wilma and Betty motivations of the wives is ridiculous. But, like you, I find the filmmakers' insistence on making a wilderness survival/cannibal/ghost story with no suspense or intensity whatsoever somehow charming.

    1. Right? It's so loaded with poor decision-making, but very, I don't know, SPECIFIC poor decision-making that it somehow turns out to be charming?

      Similar to how SPOILER ALERT, the Ethel of the group befriends the kids and then randomly asks, "Are you dead?" And they're like, "yeah [echo echo], we're totally dead [echo echo]." It's ... special.