Director: Roger Boyer
Cast: Stefanie Austin, Genevieve DeGraves, Jalin Desloges
Production Company: Zell-Koj Studio
Runtime: 75 minutes
If horror movies have taught me anything it’s this: bad things happen in the woods. The deeper you go, the worse it seems to get. Director Roger Boyer explores familiar ground and gives it a new twist in his first feature film Dark Forest (2015).
In the movie, two separate groups decide to go on a weekend camping trip. Fun and frolic gives way to terror when a maniac goes on a rampage. Will any of them be able to survive the onslaught?
The film benefits from an excellent rapport between the many characters. They’re very convincing as friends who have been together for a long time. The relationships and characters are well-developed long before the action is set in motion.
Dennis Scullard is frightening in the role of Peter. His spiral into madness is the dark engine that drives this movie forward. Laurel McArthur also shines as Peter’s beleaguered girlfriend Emily. She plays an unfortunate victim who must finally stand up for herself.
The first third of the movie often plays like a buddy film, or even a college comedy. The characters are blissfully unaware that they’re in a horror movie! That’s for the best, and adds some realism to the story. The horror elements are more shocking because of this choice too.
Dark Forest will bring to mind many of the themes already explored in slasher films from the past. Fans of movies like Friday the 13th (1980), Just Before Dawn (1981), The Burning (1881), and even Sleepaway Camp (1983) will also have a fun time with this one!
The movie makes a strong statement about domestic abuse and toxic masculinity. Horror has always been a great venue for delving into important social commentary. The plot also plays with your expectations surrounding these concepts before taking you in new directions.
The original score by James Hofer is very effective and sometimes nostalgic. His music would not be out of place in a classic slasher movie. The film is also loaded with a number of featured songs by LightningCloud, The Will To Power, Dennis Scullard, Mise en Scene, and French Press.
Dark Forest brings some fresh ideas to the beloved slasher genre. Campers now have something new to fear in the shadowy woods…
– John Migliore
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