Forest, The (US - DVD R1)
Gabe was expecting violent murder in the forest, instead he found a nice nap...
Here I go with yet another Code Red b-roll slasher review. The Forest (aka: Terror in the Forest) is one of the most boring and relatively bloodless subgenre features I’ve ever seen. The basic filmmaking skill on display is actually slightly above what’s normally expected, and the actors are sort of decent for an amateur production, but without an interesting hook, plot, or decent scare there isn’t much to suggest the film to anyone that isn’t positively obsessed with seeing every picture the subgenre has to offer.
It’s actually pretty easy to deal with an outwardly awful slasher, like say Don’t Go in the Woods…Alone, which I just reviewed, because laughing at movies can be just as fun as laughing with them. The Forest isn’t really any good, but it also isn’t enjoyably bad save two or three ridiculous scenes, and a whole lot of likely unintended homoeroticism.
The homoerotic tension between lead males Steve and Charlie is so taught you could cut it with a butter knife. Seriously, just about every word out of their mouths strikes as a double entendre. Steve’s moustache doesn’t help. I mean, the plot involves two dudes trying to take a camping trip away from their harpy wives. And speaking of, the wives don’t exactly scream heterosexual either. I don’t think my mind is too far into the gutter here, no.
There is one glorious scene in the middle of the movie that explores untouched realms of ‘so bad it’s goodness’. John the cannibal recalls his history and tells an awesome story. First he attacks his wife’s lover (Carl the hot water heater repair guy) and begins a chase. Carl tosses a petrol bottle at John to slow him down, which cues a lively bebop score. Lover boy runs around the house, where he and his get-away music stop at the site of John holding a giant saw. How did John possibly get around the house so quickly? Well never mind, because Carl dodges the saw, and continues running, as does his music. Then John reappears again with giant rusty pitchfork. Seriously, how did he get back in front of the guy? No matter, after a brief struggle (pitchfork versus children’s bike) Carl is off again, only to turn a corner into John waiting by a giant table saw (?). The whole bland mess may very well be worth a look for this one scene.
Unfortunately, even this absurdly funny sequence is relatively bloodless, and that’s the biggest crime. We don’t watch slashers for their dramatic intricacies or family dynamics, we watch them for the nubile, naked teens and the gallons of socially irresponsible gore. Or at least I do. Maybe I shouldn’t speak for other people.
Code Red presents The Forest in an anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 aspect ratio, though everything seems ever so slightly stretched in frame. I’m thinking that the original ratio was something closer to 1.66:1, but this little lapse isn’t so obvious as to make the film hard to watch (the actors take care of that problem *rim shot*). The overall frame is a bit dark and murky, and details aren’t exactly breathtaking, but it’s likely the best the flick has ever looked on screen. Blacks are deep enough, and mostly free of compression artefacts (though some dark edges are a little jagged, but colours aren’t particularly bright or vibrant, and there is some minor cross colouration.
I love this abstract electronic score. It starts out pretty goofy, and I’m not sure what these composers (there were two of them) had in mind, but once you stop over thinking it, it’s sort of ingeniously abstract. It’s also really loud on the track, though fortunately the terrible easy listening rock that the characters listen to is much softer, though the semi-narrative theme songs are positively hilarious. Most of the dialogue is well centred for a two channel mono track, but it’s all recorded at pretty much the exact same volume level, except some scenes towards the end when I couldn’t hear anything. The ‘ghost’ voices have an annoying echo effect that sort of saturates everything else, and sound effects suffer a flange effect or are almost entirely muted in some scenes. The whole track’s compression level also seems to be set too high because everything tops out at a pretty low volume level.
The disc is adorned with two commentary tracks, one with director Don Jones and DP Stuart Asbjornsen, moderated by writer Greg Goodsell (sp?), and the other with Jones and actor Gary Kent. Goodsell manages to keep Jones and Asbjornsen on track by continually asking questions, and Kent does a decent job of pumping Goodsell for information during their track. Unfortunately the two tracks repeat each other quite a bit, and I can’t necessarily suggest one over the other, they both have their merits and drawbacks. Both tracks really slow down after about forty-five minutes, and all commentators spend too much time describing what we see on screen.
Also included are a series of shot on video interviews with Kent, Asbjornsen and Jones, which are cut together with film footage, a trailer, a gallery of other Code Red trailers, and a photo gallery (including various video box art and posters).
Meh, this one’s not so hot. I’m happy new imprint Code Red has carved a niche for themselves with these rare and previously unavailable slasher flicks, and a few real clunkers are to be expected. I hope future releases feature making of documentaries like that found on the Don’t Go in the Woods…Alone disc, but if the movie isn’t any good who wants to sit through a bunch of extra features anyway, right?
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 6th May 2008
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono English
Extras: Director/Actor Commentary, Director/DP Commentary, Stills, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Don Jones
Cast: Michael Brody, Stafford Morgan, Dean Russell, Elaine Warner, Donald Jones
Length: 85 minutes
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