New on DVD from MVD Visual!
Directed by Robert C. Bruce
Written by Robert C. Bruce
Starring Benjamin Farmer, Matt Ediger, Jim Becker, Michael Biesanz, Heather Harlan, Stefan Kay, Jaime Langton, Robert Projansky, Adrian Starre, James L. Sullivan, Ashley Whittaker
Find out more about this film here, @forestsofmystery, and on Facebook here

FORESTS OF MYSTERY is a pretty basic and low budget attempt at found footage. While there are nuggests of interesting ideas at play, it forgets to do something that is essential for all horror films—be scary. Here’s my found footage questionnaire set to FORESTS OF MYSTERY.

What’s it about?
A pair of research students borrow a camera and venture into a nearby forest which is said to be haunted and cursed with evil forest sprites and spirits. After a few attempts at entering the woods, they interview some experts in the field of science and folklore and run afoul of a bouncy groupie with a weird fungal infection from the woods, before venturing into the woods one last time.

Are the actors successfully acting like they aren’t acting?
While the leads are convincingly determined to investigate and acting dramatic in front of the camera, no Oscars will be killed in order to honor this film. There is some pretty shoddy acting from the experts the two investigators interview, but there is a well-endowed young actress who is infatuated with one of the filmmakers who becomes possessed and horny from the forest moss, so that’s a plus!

Does is seem like this footage was actually found and not untouched by additional production (which means there is no omniscient editor making multiple edits or an invisible orchestra providing music)?
Not only is there music played in the background to amplify the footage to get a creepy effect, but it’s extremely bad music and sound effects played in the background failing to amplify the tension for a creepy effect. This not only cancels out all any authenticity this “footage” might have communicated, but it is badly done as well. Occasionally, there are shots of forest cams and even a “forest monster” POV which adds nothing but subtracts authenticity of the footage greatly.

Is there a valid reason the camera isn’t dropped and they just get the hell out of there?
These guys are trying to record some weird happenings in the woods, so they don’t drop the camera out of obligation to report it. Still, there’s nothing forcing the cameraman to keep rolling.

Is the lead in too long and the payoff too short?
The film does succeed in filling the entire short runtime (59 minutes) with different stuff. The duo goes to get interviews from different specialists in between ventures into the “haunted woods.” So at least the pace keeps moving throughout and there is little getting to know you time-wasting that occurs in most found footagers of this sort.

Is there an up-nose BLAIR WITCH confessional or a REC-drag away from the camera?
Nope, thank the tree spirits. While there isn’t a whole lot of action at all, at least the action that does happen is your usual “runnin’ away from a monster we really can’t see variety” and not the up-nose or drag-aways we are all tired of.

Does anything actually happen? Does the film add anything to the subgenre and is this one worth watching?
Stuff happens every time the two investigators enter the woods. The problem is that the events are so random and not captured well on the camera that none of it really makes much sense. The final moments of the film attempt to put the two investigators through hell, but the bad acting and lack of real suspense kills any impact these scenes might have. Unnecessary cuts to forest cams and the POV of the monster which is never really seen and bad music added helps kill the found footage vibe and on top of that, the film simply ends with a plop rather than a bang. Found footage films are usually done because the budget is low and the handheld format sucks the viewer in with less effort, but with FORESTS OF MYSTERY along with a lack of big budgetary dollars there’s a lack of ideas, which ultimately make the film a tedious and pointless endeavor.