DARK FOREST ** Canada 2015 Dir: Roger Boyer 75 mins
Here’s another barely feature length 21st century slasher movie (under 70 minutes without the credits!) that updates the formula by featuring a narcissistic character with a video camera – “We have to document everything!” – just because it seems to be the standard. Writer-director Boyer follows the 80’s formula closely, complete with fake scares, gas station weirdo and campfire talk of urban legends, but offers a closer approximation than most to the 80’s look and sound – thanks to a pulsing synth score and an appropriately “soft” visual style reflective of the vintage period.
This ill-fated weekend camping trip gets slowed down by a killer who talks too much and a tedious slo-mo bikini-fun montage, but offers some entertaining characterisations. The men are shallow and, at worst loathsome: their characters defined by infidelity, macho bullshit, lecherousness and the exchange of dick pics. Meanwhile, there are nicely defined performances by the ladies: Laurel McArthur is sympathetic as a downtrodden victim of abuse, and Jalin Desloges offers an amusing take on the blonde-bimbo role (“Summer’s never really over…except in winter…”). The kills are in the short, sharp tradition of the original slasher cycle and, although the climax descends into silliness, there’s something endearing about the outrageous hammer-fu at work in the final reel.
Review by Steven West