The Forest of the Lost Souls


A black and white Portuguese horror combining old-school style with enough blood-letting to satisfy horror aficionados.

Jose Pedro Lopes offers die-hard fans, as well as those just dipping a toe into the genre, an original take on the horror film. THE FOREST OF THE LOST SOULS is a breath of fresh air (no pun intended) in a genre populated by remakes and CGI. Lopez has kept this black and white Portuguese indie short and purposely paced to create a film that both horror enthusiasts and those who are less well-versed in the genre will appreciate.

A meeting of two people looking for an escape takes an unexpected turn…

The film focuses on a fictional forest where people go to commit suicide. Father and husband Ricardo (Jorge Mota) comes across Carolina (Daniela Love), a young teenage girl, while he is seeking solace in his final hours in the forest. What initially comes across as a meeting of two people looking for an escape takes an unexpected turn and unveils a much more sinister underbelly. What follows is much more familiar, with spatterings of blood and slasher elements bringing the film full circle into horror-land.

Lopes’ style is reminiscent of the Godard films of the 1960s, intertwined with the gothic stylings of early Hammer: the rich contrast of the black and white creates a depth to each scene, much like the forest itself. Each shot is deliberate and lugubrious; fans of Tarkovsky will enjoy the contemplative scenes which make up the forest’s story as well as those within its boughs.

The film performs an elegant balancing act along the genre spectrum…

The film’s timing is apt, in light of Portugal’s recent battle with its increasing numbers of suicides, following a bid to reduce them by 10 per cent by 2020. Lopes approaches dark and sensitive subject matters with intensity but also a thoughtfulness that means THE FOREST OF LOST SOULS can be enjoyed as a horror as well as exploring the more serious issues at its core.

The contrasts between the natural and the urban and the timeless and the contemporary are beautifully pieced together. Shots taken at ground-level create the sense of being part of the forest—a perfect example of Lopes’ attention to detail. Each shot has a story and a reason. Audiences can see further examples of this in Lopes’ 2011 short SURVIVALISIMO.

THE FOREST OF THE LOST SOULS performs an elegant balancing act along the genre spectrum; part slasher, part home invasion, peppered with coming-of-age elements. Viewers looking for a different take on the genre will be impressed and thoroughly creeped out by this visually beautiful and unnerving tale.

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