by Chris George, published on August 1, 2016|
Somehow, viewers are still asked to believe that a 29 year old Ellen Page is a high school student in the barren workings of Into The Forest, a highly undetailed study in characters making bad decisions and a writer's apparent contempt for finding a conclusion. If this is our hope for human kind in the near future, this guy would much rather go out in a ball of flames.
When the world loses power, two sisters are forced to confront the evils of man as they try to survive against unbearable odds and the natural surroundings that threaten them. With a slow burning pace and repeated genre tropes, this is more so a character study about sisters than it is another broad journey through the coming apocalypse. Through small glimpses of technology we're led to believe we're sometime in the near future as a failing power grid leaves humankind on the brink of total societal breakdown. As usual, man's nature leads to rape, violence, and small glimpses of hope that just may redeem them. From the confines of their home in the forest, the woes of electrical failure sets afoot a series of depressing events.
In a peaceful wooded setting, Into The Forest is a mild retread of How I Live Now that raises the bar slightly via excellent performances from Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood. While the interplay between them as sisters is palpable, the core story struggles to find a balance between tension and off putting boredom as its two lead actresses are undeniably greater than the material they're given to work with. However, Wood's heartless attempt at forced crying rips the viewer right out of the film, making an emotional scene totally vacant of the effect they were going for. Other than that, Wood and Page have a natural chemistry that doesn't feel too contrived or over produced. Once again, the extremely thin plot and mediocre attempt at redemption is flat footed and dull.
The only saving grace of the film is the peaceful setting of the woods. The colors are vivid and the natural auditory tones of the forest are omni-present. Their battle to survive against the elements and the failing structural components of their home are the real antagonists here as the two sisters are constantly on guard, fearing for their lives and their precious womanhood. Per usual, man's fortitude for rape and destruction take center stage dragging this boring film into territory we've seen time and time again.
Honestly, I wouldn't suggest watching this movie. Yes, it looks great. And the lead actresses carry the brunt of the material in stride. But, the overall delivery of plot leaves way too much to be desired. And the conclusion is one of the worst of the year. For its themes of female empowerment against the odds, there are some enjoyable moments. But the glaring omission of a functional story makes this a dire watch. These actresses are far too talented. They deserve way better than low budget fare like this.