Wild Eye Releasing has built a thriving business in the direct to video market over the years releasing all manner of low budget films from solid action films like NEVER LEAVE ALIVE to the fish monster musical SOFT MATTER to stuff I think we’d all rather forget. Now they’re entering the theatrical arena with THE FOREST OF THE LOST SOULS. This seems a very odd choice for them given its arthouse feel.
A Portuguese film, in black and white with subtitles, THE FOREST OF THE LOST SOULS is set in Portugal’s equivalent of Japan’s suicide forest. A young woman, Carolina (Daniela Love EMPRESS OF THE EVIL DEAD) runs into an older man, Ricardo (Jorge Mota).
Deciding to delay their deaths a bit so they can continue their conversation they wander through the forest. But it quickly becomes clear only one of them came here to die, the other came to kill. At this point, the film takes a turn from dark psychological drama into slasher territory. It also takes it out of the forest and into the streets of the suburbs for its final act.
The film starts out quite promisingly with its beautiful black and white cinematography perfectly matching the feel of the forest. It’s a great mood setter both for the prologue and the interaction between Carolina and Ricardo. Writer/director José Pedro Lopes and cinematographer Francisco Lobo deserve much praise for the film’s look and feel.
The script, however, tends to let things down. It’s obvious who the psychopath is well before the reveal, (the US poster doesn’t help either). And the abrupt shift in tone between the film’s two acts doesn’t work. Indeed the two acts seem like totally different films spliced together. And once outside of the forest the film becomes a rather weak slasher with another open ending. THE FOREST OF THE LOST SOULS would have been better off as a short that just covered the film’s first half. Given the director’s background in short films that might have been the initial idea.
Starting strong but running out of steam before the ending, THE FOREST OF THE LOST SOULS is still a promising first feature from Lopes. Hopefully next time he’ll have a script that truly deserves feature length.
Wild Eye Releasing debuts THE FOREST OF THE LOST SOULS on August 3 in L.A and other cities.