In Japan there is an eerie forest on the northwestern end of the famous Mount Fuji, called Aokigahara. Known as ‘The Sea of Trees’ in Japanese lore, it is even more well known by horror fans as ‘The Suicide Forest’. While the official total number of suicides is not known, for example in 2003, 105 bodies were found throughout the forest exceeding the previous record of 78 in ’02. Including over 200 people attempting suicide in 2010. What drives these hopeless souls to such a remote and serene location to just end it all? The film I’m looking at today, tries to answer this devastating question. So pop that popcorn, grab a cold adult beverage and dim those lights.
The Forest of the Lost Souls (A Floresta das Almas Perdidas) (2017)
In Portugal, The Forest of the Lost Souls is a dense and very remote wooded area that happens to be a very popular spot for lost and wayward individuals to commit suicide. One summer morning an elderly man fed up with not being good enough for his family, has made up his mind to end it all. As he makes his way deep into the tragically beautiful woods, he happens upon a young girl who has also decided to end her life. Can they prove to one another that there’s still life worth living? Or is there even anything left worth saving?
…La tristesse durera toujours…
Clocking in at just over an hour long this is going to be somewhat of a short review. The Forest of the Lost Souls is a hauntingly bleak film that covers a myriad of themes from the loss of a child, inadequacy in life to rebellious youth and utter hopelessness. First time full-length feature film director Jose Pedro Lopes shot the film in black and white, and yet still managed to capture a vibrant and beautiful forest landscape that was truly captivating. Daniela Love and Jorge Mota were cast and carried the film as the young girl and elderly man who were fated to cross paths in this death forest. Love’s performance completely took the film over.
All in all, The Forest of the Lost Souls is a pretty impressive flick. The first two acts are very slow, fueled with character development. But considering the slim run time it’s not too detrimental to the viewing experience. As the third act gives way, this flick turns into a completely different beast. The gut-wrenchingly frantic and unexpected finale, firmly stamps this film’s cinematic footprint into the horror genre. Although this film being released through Wild Eye Releasing may most times be a bad thing, this should not sway you in any way from watching this film. It was a truly bleak and hopeless film, I came away feeling a little hopeless myself as the credits started to roll. Thought-provoking and tear-jerking. But also, riddled with tension and truly dark and twisted.
Check out this trailer below!
Released in the U.S. on August 5th, 2018 it is out now on VOD platforms!
Thanks for reading and remember boils and ghouls…