Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Forest - 1982

With the success of Halloween and Friday the 13th in the early 80's came countless imitators trying to cash in on the serial killer craze.  Some of these movies decided that clearly what gave Halloween it's success was basing your horror film around a holiday.  Apparently that's what they thought anyways, as movies like New Years Evil, April Fool's Day, Home Sweet Home, and countless others appeared all at once.  The imitators for Friday the 13th were numerous as well, and since 13th was just about a killer in the woods it was even easier to copy.

So, you have a few well known Friday the 13th imitators from the 80's, like Sleepaway Camp or The Burning, and mostly the imitators of 13th were kind of decent.  Oddly enough, 13th spawned better imitators than Halloween, in my opinion.  Now, I love a good slasher flick.  It's a style that is so simple, so direct, and needs little direction or difference to keep someone interested.  It's a style where nothing has to be "different" or "new" but if you get the atmosphere and the sense of tension right, it's going to be a good movie.

Of course, one of those thin lines a film can walk is how to present your murderer.  Usually in a slasher movie your killer is an enigma, dark and mysterious, with reasons either being cryptic or severely disturbing.  Halloween was the best of the cryptic killer movies, without a doubt.  Friday the 13th had a cryptic killer, presented as more of a whodunnit than anything else.

The Forest is a little known 1982 horror movie that has every reason to be forgotten about.  It's not especially good, memorable, or bloody, has no nudity or even bad language, and the killer is actually shown in a more sympathetic light.  There's a very easy plot, basically some people go camping and there's a killer loose in the woods.  The movie goes for a weird supernatural feel as the woods are also infested with the ghosts of the killer's family, which at times help out the 4 people who are running around in the woods.

Through the ghosts and the killer's memory we are shown why the killer man became the crazy cannibal dude that he is.  He was cheated on by his abusive wife, and went nuts and killed her.  Then his children both committed suicide which drove him completely over the edge.  It's this that makes us sympathize with him a little bit.  It's not the most effective strategy, as the movie never describes why he is a cannibal, or why the children committed suicide.  I think they just wanted to make him scary as can be (by making him cannibal) yet wanted to have a "reason" (the wife thing).

The movie is cheap, flimsy, and there are no scares in it, The single best part would probably be the retarded flashback in which we see the man discovering his wife is cheating on him.  Not only does it show him as a complete idiot, but his reaction is so bland, and the death scene so slow and boring, that it makes for a few laughs.  The movie could easily be the subject of some MST style treatment, if you are feeling up for it.  Long periods of silence, corny dialogue, stupid characters, it has all the ingredients.

Another good thing about the movie was the awesome original music.  The soundtrack is obviously trying to be as memorable as the iconic Halloween and Friday the 13th scores, with a "theme".  The 80's synths of the soundtrack are in full gear throughout the film, which is super awesome and silly.  Plus there are some really bad, 70's sounding soul-type pop songs that litter the film, and they are truly laughable.  That gives the film an entire star rating higher, because it's things like that that make your horror movie good, memorable, and fun.

All these things considered it ends with a 1 star rating.  The killer was just not scary, in fact I'm almost sure he wasn't supposed to be.  This movie was almost more of a psychological thriller than anything else.  See it if you're going to riff it or if you LOVE slashers like I do.  Otherwise, it's more than skip-able.

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