It’s a story that we hear often. There’s a place where people go to contemplate suicide and perhaps they actually make that attempt. It’s a journey that one takes in solitude, and where you might not want to speak with anyone else there. Portuguese film The Forest of the Lost Souls does not entertain that solitude for long as a lonely older man finds a strange young woman. Richardo goes into such a forest and Carolina soon becomes his interruption and his companion. Though, the interaction is lightly confrontational, her consistent advice on the proper way to commit suicide, and follow through with it, humors the idea of suicide as one ages. He consistently attempts to talk her out of the action, or at least delay the act, a game of consistently condescending one another. Beyond suicide, The Forest of the Lost Souls exemplifies conflicts between generations and conflicts of pessimism and optimism.
The only characters through this section of the movie gain all of their development through their interaction. At times it is filled with massive conflict, and others it is filled with a sense of caring and warmth creating a fantastic power dynamic.
One of the most notable aspects, and perhaps the most valuable is its presentation in full monochrome and gorgeous shots, incredible lighting, and presents the warmth of summer alongside the coldness of humanity without leaving you lost.
This movie moves a bit slower than your average film, and is not heavy on dialogue, though the lines are carefully thought and consistently paying homage to the feeling of the film, with a calm, somber tone. If you come to this movie wanting to see an artistic construction, and you’ll be satisfied. It is a film that sinks into you.
The movie really has two parts and the movement from suicide to murder is abrupt, and suddenly the loss of life moves from one’s own choice, to someone else’s, giving new meaning to the line, “Everyone comes here for a reason. Even me and you.”
From about the exact halfway point of the movie, it falls into full blown slasher filled with manipulation, taking the story out of the forest and into the life where the suicides still resonate. Finally, it is here that we see the impact that a suicide has on those left behind, but also the struggle to continue life. While the monochrome presentation does not allow for fantastic gore scenes, they provide realistic sadistic scenarios with a great score and fantastically quick build ups.
Some movies have this grand conclusion, where the world is a little different for everyone you’ve met along the way. This movie will not show you this, because sometimes awful things all around you happen, and sometimes, you never notice and you remain unphased, and that might leave you feeling confused and empty. It could be the biggest complaint about the movie, and it is a significant one. Afterwards, I was not sure if I had watched a movie about death or life. However, the thing about psychopaths is a lack of empathy, and therefore, life goes on even after suicide or murder. Whichever comes first.
The Forest of the Lost Souls is available now from Wild Eye Releasing.