Tyler J. Edwards —
This year’s Patricia Rozema-directed post-apocalyptical film attempt slightly flips the genre in an innovative way. Clinging to values, introspect and character development has never been the focal point of action packed films like The Day After Tomorrow or I Am Legend but this one’s different. Into The Forest is a beautifully delivered story about family and survival with an important message for our generation.
The film saw its initial release at 2015’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) due to its Canadian shooting. After critical acclaim, they are now gearing up for the theatrical release of this story about two young sisters living in the seclusion of their state-of-the-art farm/luxury home when a mysterious electrical malfunction begins to plague the world. After coming to terms with the fact all worldwide electricity has failed, the story begins to chronicle the girls, their interactions with the others they come across, and of course their constant trips throughout the forest that surrounds their home.
Although narrated with a storyline that sounds straight forward and nearly even uneventful, this film ends up being miles beyond uneventful but its definitive shine comes from its realistic approach to the story’s events. Being set in a “not so distant” future gives a unique sense of exploration to the writers who can now tap into the progressiveness of what we see as realistic by creating technology that is advanced but not unimaginable by our standards. The ability to maintain this haunting sense of realism is this film’s strongest point and what helps it slowly escalate from a quirky theory about what probably would never actually happen to a horror story about what could possibly happen by the time you finish reading this sentence. The disturbingly accurate performance in this scenario gives this movie a definite sense of empathy. The acting was excellent by all but it was mainly Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood who were truly, easily relatable to the fast-paced youth of our culture yet still poignant and touching at their vital moments of emotional vulnerability. Both actresses have clearly jumped leaps beyond their comfort zones and the result of this makes for a powerful, eye-opening performance.
From the beginning, it’s very clear how different the sisters actually are and where their appreciation truly lies. Eva (Evan Rachel Wood) gears her devotion closer toward family and nature while Nell (Ellen Page) concentrates more on her independence and technological connectivity. Every conflict amongst the two ends up being an ideological war between family and technology, even down to the argument about whether to use the remaining gas on the generator to watch home movies or on the car to go into town for supplies. Their ability to survive eventually becomes based on them sharing their ideologies and looking at life through the other’s eyes, which of course can also be said about people in general.
The cinematography also helps maintain the suspenseful uncertainty of the forest with long, brooding shots while the immersed, intimate, indoor shots allow for a sense of empathy and insight. This artistic balance allows this film to become very emotionally riveting at its strongest times. By the end, a feeling of appreciation for our overused technology is obviously evident in the audience but most importantly, a feeling of appreciation for the overused people in our lives is even clearer. Into The Woods ends up being a film about growth despite obstacles and constant displays of gratitude for what we have in our lives, whether they’re living or not.