Described as a slow burn horror film, The Forest of Lost Souls lives up to that description. Sourced from a one-off showing at a film festival in Portugal, it features Daniella Love, a rising star in Portugal, as the female protagonist hell bent on... well, Hell, I guess. Love plays it somewhere between Orphan and Samara from The Ring and manages to build her character quite nicely to begin with. The problem is there's just not enough of anything for her to work with.
My biggest criticism of this movie was that I wanted more. More light and shade in the black and white pallette, more suspense, more tension in the dialogue and, frankly, more blood!
Because, without giving the game away too much, The Forest of Lost Souls is not so much a horror movie as a slasher movie and if you're going to make a slasher movie there needs to be more blood and lots of it.
The lack of all of the above in any great degree contributes to the film's plodding pace and stops Love in her tracks in her effort to create a truly memorable character.
Then there's the slightly unsubtle scenes where our slasher is following her quarry. News flash - we all know you're there - as one wag in the audience pointed out.
The use of black and white contributes to the limitations of the film not quite pulling off the artistic vision of director and screenwriter José Pedro Lopes, and detracts from scenes that would have benefited from a bit more clarity.
All in all, while The Forest of Lost Souls shows promise, you are left with the feeling there's more work to be done.
As a footnote, the short film prelude to the movie Behind is an absolute winner - make sure you get there in time to see it. Scary as hell!
The Forest of Lost Souls is screening together with Behind as part of the 2017 Sydney Film Festival. Catch the final screening of the horror double bill on Saturday June 17th.