12th Oct2018

‘The Forest of the Lost Souls’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Daniela Love, Jorge Mota, Mafalda Banquart, Lígia Roque, Lília Lopes, Tiago Jácome, Débora Ribeiro | Written and Directed by José Pedro Lopes


Portugal isn’t a country you would associate with horror movies. In fact, I can’t think of one other Portuguese horror movie I have even heard of. So I was looking forward to what The Forest of the Lost Souls had to offer. The forest in the title is apparently Portugal’s most popular forest for people to commit suicide. Not a title the tourist board promote I assume!

The story follows two people, a man in his fifties and a woman about late teens/early twenties who meet in the forest. Both there to end their lives but two very different people. And the first half of the film is an interesting ‘odd couple’ back and forth as they walk through the tress together talking about their lives and how to commit suicide. The woman knows a lot more about the latter than the man. There’s some surprisingly good chemistry between the two leads and I really enjoyed just the interaction and chatting they have in these first thirty minutes or so. The two lead actors put in great performances and its good to see that at least one of them is the obvious genre lead. Unfortunately, for me personally, the film takes a different direction for its second half, and although this direction is entertaining enough, I would have happily watched the two walking and talking for its whole running time.

The second half escapes from the woods and goes down a completely different and unexpected path; and things do become a bit more action-filled and is ultimately a satisfying enough conclusion to the film.

One of the stand-out things with The Forest of the Lost Souls is its cinematography. It really does look fantastic. Shot in black and white in a way that doesn’t feel gimmicky and it gives the movie a beautiful style of its own. The many shots of the forest itself are perfect, this is a very scenic movie and that is no bad thing. Certainly refreshing for a horror movie. The musical score is, for the most part, very enjoyable too. The only time it didn’t work for me was when it went a bit overly dramatic. It didn’t feel needed and is much better when it is atmospheric and creepy.

While not a missed opportunity, The Forest of the Lost Souls is very much a movie of two halves. If the first half story continued the tone probably would have been very different and more depressing. I would have liked it to talk more about suicide and the people that are in that situation. This is the focus at the beginning and learning about the two characters was the most intriguing part of the film. It then takes a more traditional less original horror route to finish things.

That said, at only 65 minutes long, the time flies by nicely and the shortish length feels just right. As this is director, Jose Pedro Lopes’s, first full feature, it will be interesting to see what direction his next movie takes.

*** 3/5

The Forest of the Lost Souls is available on Blu-ray and DVD (in the US) now from Wild Eye Releasing.


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