There is no escaping the fact that director Brendan Rudnicki’s Horror In The Forest is another entry in the long line of found footage films aping The Blair Witch Project. Georgie (Alexa Lauren), Bo (Andrew Thomas), and Stephan (Dylan DeVane) venture out into Rudwick Forest to make a documentary about the mysterious happenings there. Specifically, the filmmakers inquire about the legend of the witch in the forest and the spate of missing children. Sound familiar?
Georgie, Bo, and Stephan interview locals, most of whom do not want to talk about it, though a former park ranger has much to say about the haunted land. They get lost in the woods and feel something out there is messing with them. Sound familiar? But, around halfway through the 80-minute runtime, originality takes hold. The documentarians meet Nelson (Jim Johnson), a father who lost his daughter during a hiking trip. He’s convinced that, with their help, he can summon the witch and force her to return his beloved child. Is there truly a witch haunting the forest? Can Nelson, Georgie, Bo, and Stephan uncover the truth and find the missing kids?
“…can summon the witch and force her to return his beloved child.”
The first half of Horror In The Forest, written by Brendan and Kellan Rudnicki, is not bad at all. Lauren and Thomas are a lot of fun together, and the night shoots in the woods are evocative. But it is all old hat. Stories like this have been cinematically told well before Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez changed the face of independent horror and will be told for many more years to come. Some are great (The Blair Witch Project still holds up), others are dreadful (the belated sequel known simply as Blair Witch is a misstep on every level), and even more are instantly forgettable. While there are good elements, everything before Nelson appears falls more on the average side of things. The mood is eerie, but the jump scares feel telegraphed, and there are no story surprises for the longest time.
Then Nelson enters. His arc and motivations are understandable and infuse a new atmosphere into the narrative. The twist involving what he’s really doing is well-handled and adds weight to Georgie and Bo helping him. Had this character been introduced within the first 10 or 15 minutes, the Blair Witch Project comparisons would be minimal, but c’est la vie.
Horror In The Forest is not the most original found footage title out there. Its influences are evident from the jump, and by comparison, the first half doesn’t quite live up to the best this subgenre has to offer. However, the second half dramatically pushes things forward into bold, new territory, literally and figuratively. As such, horror fans will do well to spend a late night checking this out.
For more information about Horror In The Forest, visit the DBS Films site.
"…horror fans will do well to spend a late night checking this out."