Into the Forest (2015) Directed by Patricia Rozema. With Ellen Page, Evan Rachel Wood and Callum Keith Rennie.
How do you make an effective drama-thriller about a power cut? You hire writer-director Patricia Rozema, that’s how. Into the Forest is also blessed with the joint presence of Evan Rachel Wood (hot right now thanks to HBO’s Westworld) and Ellen Page, the latter still presenting like a moody teenager, despite her 28-years. As ‘Eva’ and ‘Nell’, respectively (see what they did there?), they live in the semi-seclusion of a modern-natural home out in the sticks with their caring father, Callum Keith Rennie. Before long, they’re scrabbling around the house for candles and books, as the mild irritation of no internet connection becomes something more serious.
Essentially, the film is a survival drama about the unbreakable bond between two sisters. In terms of tone, there are touches of The Walking Dead meets Winter’s Bone, as what initially seems like a random power outage becomes a problem with widespread implications as standards in society fail and lawlessness creates an impending air of threat.
Wood and Page are excellent, as is Patricia Rozema, who builds a very tangible feeling of danger as the film slowly develops. It’s one of those high-alert experiences that doesn’t need to resort to jump-scares, but all the while, has our eyes on stalks monitoring the background with hawk-like intensity for the slightest sign of any lurking predators, animal or human.
It’s always interesting to see the thin veil of security and order, brought crumbling down as resources run low and technology becomes useless, but moreover – how people so attached to modern ways adapt to discover their own survival instincts.
With an ending that leaves questions dangling – there are many things that make Into the Forest a tough, albeit worthwhile experience. By the end of the second act, it becomes clear the story intends to remain within its own borders – focusing solely on its characters to convey a sense of hope against apparent hopelessness. 3.5/5