The intensely bleak and extremely dark “Into the Forest” is a feminist-tinged apocalyptic tale of sisterly love and devotion taken to the extreme. Based on the novel by author Jean Hegland, the film tells the story of technologically dependent sisters Nell (Ellen Page) and Eva (Evan Rachel Wood), a pair of girls who find themselves struggling to survive after a worldwide power outage sends the world into a quiet apocalypse.
The duo live in near isolation with their resourceful hippie father (Callum Keith Rennie) in their sustainable home in the remote Canadian wilderness. With a ride into town taking nearly an hour each way (and with a gas shortage), the family can’t take chances by burning the last of their fuel and holes up in their secure space deep in the woods, hoping to ride out the power outage. When their dad is involved in a horrible accident, they have no way to get to the hospital in town — and the girls soon find themselves alone and scared, forced to rely on their instincts to stay alive.
The extraordinary acting from the two female leads is what makes this movie so remarkable. Page and Wood are both extremely talented young women and give understated performances that are brimming with devastating authenticity and a crushing sense of sadness and desperation, yet still tinged with a tenacious will to survive.
There’s a somber truth in the film’s exploration of tragedy and hope that’s presented with the utmost credibility and raw honesty. This isn’t an easy film to watch, especially as the girls suffer through some unspeakable emotional and physical trauma, but it displays a substantial ‘girl power’ rallying cry that you can’t help but admire.
The film, which takes place over two years, has an enjoyably agonizing slow burn for the first half, but then it falls into the usual book-turned-movie trap where there’s simply too much plot introduced at the last minute. It’s crammed too full of confusing plot twists and briefly touched on curious situations, and the absolutely absurd (yet oddly hopeful) ending doesn’t help things.
Despite these criticisms, the film is beautiful, cruel, and is one that’s worth watching — especially for the stunning performances and fully realized bleak tone.
Matt was unavailable for review.