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  • Rev Horror

Lovely, Dark and Deep

Dir. Teresa Sutherland (2023)

A new forest ranger tries to uncover the mystery of a tragedy that has haunted her since childhood.

It doesn't take a whole lot to make the woods scary. Isolated locations and the presence of any number of unseen creatures who just want to eat you while you scream tends to make the forest one of the scarier places to visit, and the fact that an unbelievably large number of people go missing in these areas every year is proof that they're something that you really want to take seriously. It is this subject that our movie today, Lovely, Dark and Deep attempts to deal with, discussing the reality of people who have gone missing in the woods through the lens of a brand new forest ranger looking for a missing person of her own. What follows is a genuinely terrifying-at-times flick with a ton of fantastic visuals and a couple of excellent performances.

Lennon (Georgina Campbell, Barbarian) is the aforementioned ranger, a woman who is stationed at an outpost in the forest alone to help guide campers and others who would come by her station. During a terrible childhood incident, Lennon's sister went missing, and she has taken the job with the intention of trying to find out what happened to her sister (while hopefully avoiding being eaten by Smokey Bear). Through a series of horrific visions and otherworldly experiences, Lennon must fight to survive the woods herself while trying to find her loved one and others who are still going missing in present day.

Georgina Campbell is a fucking star, an actress whose name, at this point, will immediately make me want to check out the film. As always, she does a phenomenal job in this film, carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders and showing every bit of it onscreen. Wai Ching Ho, who plays the sage ranger leader Zhang, is fantastic as well, serving as a forest elder seeking to give advice while fully understanding the hell she is sending Lennon to fight. The other actors are all excellent as well, but these two roles really shined in the film and helped it become better than it might otherwise have been.

The film's weaknesses are its pacing and its convolution. The disorienting camerawork is quite effective, but it often leaves the audience as mystified as to what's going on as Lennon herself. The plot is jumbled in an attempt to make the film more paranoia-inducing and creepy, and while it succeeds in those efforts, it's harder to follow than really necessary at times. It's not a film that particularly needs such a straightforward narrative, due to the nature of what's going on in the plot, but it certainly would've helped the film to have a little more staying power and appeal to a general audience.

That said, the film is genuinely scary. There are some truly frightening visuals throughout, and the general ambience of the woods makes for an already terrifying locale. Add in the ephemeral quality of the film, the horrific events that unfold, and the supernatural-esque quality of some of the scenes and you have a movie that is probably the scariest one I've seen so far this year. Campbell does a great job of carrying the film because the narrative alone might not have been, but the actual fear quality of the film is pretty legit. This is one that will probably fly under a lot of people's radars, but it hopefully will gain some steam because it's a good flick. It's well worth checking out when you get the chance.

Who this movie is for: Isolationist horror fans, Folk horror aficionados, Bass Pro Shop Rewards members

Bottom line: There are a few strikes against the film that will be difficult to overcome for some, but a star turn by Georgina Campbell and some top-notch disorienting cinematography do more than help save the movie. It's scary at times, gorgeously shot at others, and all in all a very good film. It's streaming right now on Amazon Prime, and if it seems like a flick that would be up your alley, I definitely recommend giving it a look.

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