“Forest of Death” is an interesting addition to the horror genre, defying expectations and showcasing the creative talents of its director, Brendan Rudnicki.
In recent times, horror films often rely on formulaic scares and cliches. But Rudnicki takes risks and experiments with his storytelling, resulting in a unique and captivating viewing experience even for an indie film on this scale.
The film’s title gives out exactly what it is about as it is a story about a group of friends who settle down in their remote cabin in the woods for a relaxing weekend. But soon things take a strange turn. This getaway has turned into a nightmare of some sort as there is a strange creature on the prowl, a skinwalker, that has the power to shapeshift to confuse and trick its prey.
One of the standout aspects of “Forest of Death” is the approach that was used to pace the film and draw in audience engagement. Unlike many horror films that rely on jump scares and gore almost immediately, this one takes time to build tension and fear through subtle behaviour and the menacing atmosphere of the forest. The film’s running time of roughly 75 minutes may seem short for a horror film, but every minute seems to have been used effectively, making sure the audience is fully immersed in the story.
The performances in “Forest of Death” are also noteworthy, with Rudnicki showcasing his talent for directing actors.
The ensemble of four friends who decide to rent a house in the woods is portrayed convincingly, with their interactions feeling natural and relatable. The characters are not just mere victims waiting to be killed off, but individuals with distinctive personalities and dynamics, which adds some depth to the story. The encounters with the locals, who share tales by the fire, add an eerie and mysterious element to the film, further heightening the sense of impending doom.
Rudnicki’s decision to focus on a restricted space, the woods, adds to the film’s tension and sense of claustrophobia. The forest becomes a character in itself, with its darkness and unknown threats lurking in the shadows. Rudnicki effectively uses the setting to create a sense of isolation and helplessness for the characters, adding to the overall sense of fear.
One of the strengths of “Forest of Death” is the restraint when it comes to special effects and monster reveals. Instead of relying on excessive gore or CGI, Rudnicki opts for a more subtle approach, leaving much to the audience’s imagination. This restraint adds to the film’s effectiveness, as the fear of the unknown can be much more terrifying than explicit visuals. The “monster” in the film is kept mostly hidden, only glimpsed in brief moments, which adds to its mystique and leaves the audience guessing.
Despite its indie production value, “Forest of Death” stands out as a well-executed horror film in many ways. It has a story and proceeds to tell it with some decently developed characters.
Rudnicki’s confidence as a director is evident in his unique approach to storytelling, as he avoids repeating conventional horror tropes and instead takes risks with pacing, performances, and visual cues. The result is a film that feels fresh and original, offering a new perspective on the horror genre.
While “Forest of Death” may not be a perfect film, with some aspects that could have been further developed, it is a promising effort from a talented director. Rudnicki’s willingness to experiment and push the boundaries of the horror genre is commendable, and it’s clear that he has a deep understanding of what makes horror effective – the subtleties of human behaviour, the power of the atmosphere, and the importance of pacing.
In the end, “Forest of Death” is a standout horror film made with limited resources that defies genre expectations and showcases the creative talents of its director, Brendan Rudnicki and for that i would score it 6 out of 10.
It may not be suitable for those who prefer traditional jump scares and gore, but “Forest of Death” is a must-watch for horror fans who appreciate thought-provoking and innovative storytelling.