Advance Review: Gearing up for festivals in the Spring 2018!

REMOVED (2017)

Directed by Kevin Forrest
Written by Kevin Forrest
Starring Michael Draper, Erin McGarry, Dennis Fitzpatrick, Nikki Flinn, Jill Sughrue
Find out more about this film here

REMOVED is a tale we have heard before. I couple wish to leave civilization on a vacation in the forest, but their plans for solace and solitude are interrupted by a group of hill people, hungry for some city folk to add to their stewpot. But the difference between those other tales and this one is the talent of writer/director Kevin Forrest in his camerawork, direction, and pacing.

As described above, REMOVED is about Lori (Erin McGarry) and Christopher (Michael Draper), a pair of hipsters bent on leaving civilization in their wake and live off the land—at least for the weekend. Having packed up some tasty granola and stowed away their phones, the two set out to take on the wild country of the Pacific Northwest. But their vacation is interrupted by a strange “family” of hill folk—a grumpy burlyman named Arvis (Dennis Fitzpatrick) and what seems to be his son Frank (played by actress Nikki Flinn). What unfolds is an arduous fight for Lori and Christopher, two people who turn out to be unfit to survive the horrors that live in the woods.

There is one thing that is undeniable about REMOVED. Writer/director Forrest is able to capture the untouched beauty of the Pacific Northwest exquisitely. His camera lingers on both the tiny intricacies of the woodlands as well as the vast scope of the landscape. Much of the film feels like a Terrence Malick film, stopping to smell the scents, see the sights, hear every sound, and damn near almost taste vast sensual overload that is venturing out into the untamed wild. Forrest also seems to have used a lot of drone footage and those shots, while awe inspiring, also highlight how lost in the woods these two people really are. This is a truly beautiful looking film and one worth seeking out for that fact alone.

But on top of that, it is an unsettling film as well. The odd and downright perverse relationship between Arvis and Frank is only hinted at, but the little details we do see are twisted and something I soon won’t forget. The violence that unfolds is also unique in that, while it is harrowing, it also is vague, allowing the viewer to fill in the blanks with horrifying nightmares themselves. This makes for some extremely unsettling and truly terrifying moments.

While there are moments where I feel the camera lingered a bit too long in order for the film to achieve a feature length runtime and it is debatable whether our campers in peril are sympathetic protagonists or pretentious hipsters (they kind of are both), REMOVED offers up some fantastic camerawork as well as a story, that while it is familiar, ends up being unique, sometimes horrifying, and definitely worth your time.