REVIEW: Into the Forest (2016)

Theatrical Release Poster – A24

The following is a review of Into the Forest, a Patricia Rozema film.

Patricia Rozema’s Into the Forest, not to be confused with Rob Marshall’s Into the Woods or Jason Zada’s The Forest, had its premiere at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, but wasn’t released theatrically in Canada and the United States until 2016. Just the other day, I saw it pop up on a Danish video on demand service, but the film didn’t quite live up to my expectations. 

Into the Forest is based on the novel of the same name by Jean Hegland, and it follows a father (played by Callum Keith Rennie) and his two daughters, Nell (played by Ellen Page) and Eva (played by Evan Rachel Wood). Set in the not-too-distant future, Into the Forest tells the story of how two sisters have to try to survive alone in the forest after society has collapsed.

I think my expectations for this film were too high. I had heard great things about the book, and this film didn’t live up to what I had heard. I didn’t find it as thought-provoking as I had expected, and I didn’t find it to be that good either. I was waiting for the film to grab me, but after twenty-five minutes I still had no idea if it was ever going to succeed in getting me on board with the narrative.

I didn’t think that all of the character-decisions felt all that believable, and the single tense scene early on in the film didn’t work for me, as I still wasn’t sold on the story or the characters. It’s safe to say that I was pretty underwhelmed. Thankfully, though, slowly, but surely, I started to respond to what the film was throwing at me. There’s a pretty tense scene about an hour into the film, and that scene definitely won me over. It involves a character played by Michael Eklund, and it is really tough to watch.

Make no mistake, the best parts in this film are these great character moments with our two main characters. Both characters change as the plot moves forward, and that was believable. Ellen Page is great here, and Evan Rachel Wood is terrific as well. Max Minghella, who plays Nell’s boyfriend, didn’t work that well for me though. I couldn’t figure out what accent he was trying to pull off, and that bugged me.

Into the Forest is not a very impressive film. It won’t break any new ground. It isn’t all that significant or noteworthy. That said, the performances of the two main characters are. Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page’s performances carry the film, so while the film isn’t memorable at all, their performances will keep you, at the very least, intrigued from start to finish.

6 out of 10

– I’m Jeffrey Rex

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