Stoked for The Strokes?
THE FOREST OF LOST SOULS is a 2017 Portuguese slasher film directed by José Pedro Lopes. There's plenty of gore and a lot to like about this film. There's also a lot more to question in terms of the film's overall direction; leaving it as something more to be desired.
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Not So 'Gor-ious'

The 2017 Brooklyn Horror Festival has come and gone. This was actually my first time attending the festival. The overall vibe of the venue was one of excitement. I was among that excited bunch, as I had heard quite a bit of hype surrounding that particular day’s premier: THE FOREST OF LOST SOULS, a Portuguese slasher film directed by José Pedro Lopes.

Ricardo’s daughter: Irene

The film is set in a fictional forest located somewhere between Portugal and Spain. THE FOREST OF LOST SOULS is apparently an infamous suicide spot, and the overall premise is the tale of two complete strangers meeting on the morning of what should be their last. Both strangers are apparently looking to end their own lives; both have their own demons, and their own “crosses to bear.”

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I’m not going to trash this film, as I honestly felt like it was a solid attempt at making a “retro-style” slasher film with the “oh gosh” moment of a surprise twist taking place about 1/3 of the way into the movie. That doesn’t make the film itself a poor attempt in my eyes. It does however make the film a sub-par entry into the almost long-forgotten genre of the psychological slasher. I would akin that type of film with the likes of say the HALLOWEEN franchise or to a lesser extent a LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.

What’s It About?

THE FOREST OF LOST SOULS takes place in a fictional forest somewhere in or around Portugal. That forest is known locally as a place where “lost souls” go to commit suicide. The film stars Daniela Love as Carolina, a young woman who apparently visits the forest frequently. Her co-star for at least 1/3 of the film is Jorge Mota as Ricardo, a father still grief stricken over the loss of his daughter Irene (portrayed by Lilia Lopes). Carolina and Ricardo meet one another at, presumably, the darkest point of each others lives. Both are intent on committing suicide, meeting in the forest seemingly by way of a chance encounter.

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Each of the characters were established almost immediately upon their introduction. An important thing for the viewer in any film is to have an investment (good or bad) in its characters. The goal of any filmmaker should be to get the audience to care about its characters, and have a desire to see the story through to the end. That emotional investment keeps the viewer engaged, and keeps the viewer a fan even after the film ends. Ricardo seems resolute in his thought process that he is basically “worthless to his family now” and that he has made too many mistakes to turn back now. Carolina on the other hand seems to be a bit more indecisive. She’s apparently been to the forest many times before, almost becoming a de facto guide for the many lost souls she encounters on each trip she makes to the forest.

Ricardo is Relateable


THE FOREST OF LOST SOULS did a wonderful job of making me feel bad for Ricardo. How? Because his story was very human and relateable. A grief-stricken father loses his daughter and is driven to end his own life because he doesn’t think his wife and remaining child care about him. Why else? Ricardo feels like the mistakes he has made in life add up to him not being worthy of his family’s love and affection. That’s a deep emotion, and it’s one that anyone can relate to. Maybe you don’t relate in the sense of wanting to commit suicide. That may be a bit drastic. But it’s certainly relateable in terms conveying that thought of “am I good enough?” I’d dare to say that almost everyone reading this, at one point or another, has asked themselves that very question: AM I GOOD ENOUGH? That’s a powerful thought.

Carolina is Angst Personified


I also felt like Carolina was the perfect antagonist to put up against Ricardo. While he was more tired, empty, and seemingly beaten down by life, Carolina was young and full of idealism. She was also completely sardonic in the way she reacted towards Ricardo. I loved that about her character. I definitely felt like some of her dialogue seemed forced and bit too contrived at times, though. Otherwise I did love her character and thought Daniela Love did a wonderful job overall.

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Overall Thoughts

I really liked the movie, but it did fall short for me in a a few key areas. For one thing, I really didn’t get the ending. For a film with such interesting twists and turns, the ending left me more confused rather than intrigued to see what happens next. Seeing one of the film’s main characters go from deadly slasher to happy-go-lucky with no explanation for their actions fell short. It just didn’t make me want to watch it again or check out a potential sequel down the line. The ending kind of made me feel cheated to a certain extent. That’s definitely where the film lost some major points with me.

I also have to question why the film chose to date itself. Do we really need to know that Carolina is a “typical” young person? She uses Facebook and loves going to concerts. Both are facts that I really didn’t need to know, and neither facts establish who Carolina is as a person. How does partying and being a fan of Arcade Fire tie in with her wanting to commit suicide?

The one thing most great horror films have in common is that they focus on relateable human elements to convey a story. The idea that “this could happen to you too” is what makes a scary movie scary. When you bring up real bands or present day fads in a film, you date yourself. That’s not how you keep a film relateable beyond its current market. Will the bands and pop-culture references mentioned force someone watching this film in the future to look them up just so they can get the references? That’s a major detail to me, and I think the film would hold up more for me if it hadn’t dated itself.


Definitely check out THE FOREST OF LOST SOULS. It’s by no means a bad film and worth a watch. But for something that lasts under an hour and twenty minutes, I can’t see a lot of people sitting through this more than once. So I would definitely say see it, but keep your expectations tempered.

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