Thursday, August 8, 2013

Film Review: Dark Forest of Death (2006)

Dark Forest of Death (Review)
South Korea/2006
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"You need endurance for this film -- and maybe a few energy drinks."

A group of friends, including a psychic of sorts, travel into the woods for a weekend. Their fun weekend quickly turns into a fight for survival as they realize they may not be alone.

Dark Forest of Death features a cliché first half. It follows the generic characters as they have fun hiking until one of them is injured. So, they camp out and decide to go about their business, usually on their own -- which leads to them being picked off one by one. The second half reveals the presence of zombie-ghosts, or something of the sort; so, if blood is spilled, that person becomes a pale, violent psychopath that can only be killed destroying the head. That's a little creative, but it's poorly executed -- underdeveloped and weakly explained; the same goes for the psychic visions. The film's ending goes on and on; when you think it's over, they somehow find a way to extend it even further; the final twists are predicable, and one has no immediate significance whatsoever.

The main problem with this film is the tediously inflated runtime. This is a story that could've been told in less than an hour, probably even 30 minutes, but, instead, it feels like it lasts longer than The Godfather! This is due to the very repetitive scenes. On top of that, some scenes just take forever as they are shot in unnecessary slow-motion and every single action must be captured -- like pulling every match from a matchbook... one by one... in slow motion. All of this significantly affects the storytelling as it quickly becomes tedious -- a real chore to get through. Suspense is nonexistent; there aren't any effective jump-scares; there are some solid gore effects and an effective stabbing, but those are few and far in between and aren't actually scary.

The acting was solid most of the time; the story doesn't demand much from the cast, but they perform competently. The film is also shot competently, but it fails to effectively capture the environment or mood. The music, although initially eerie, is repetitive and ill-fitted; some scenes don't need it, but it's used anyway -- overused would be an understatement. The writing, particularly the story, is poor; it's stretched out way too thin, becoming tedious and repetitive before the first act is over; the dialogue looks improvised, as well, but that just may be the writing.

Overall, Dark Forest of Death is a bad horror movie; what should've been a short film is stretched past feature-length; the ridiculous receptiveness and tediousness may put you to sleep, the violence may work as a wake-up call but it isn't scary. You need endurance for this film -- and maybe a few energy drinks.

Score: 2/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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