I worked last night, so that means I slept until midday and had a lazy afternoon. Post-apocalyptic movies are a thing of mine, so without doing any prior research, I watched ‘Into the Forest’ (2015) directed by Patricia Rozema. Now you get to hear about it for free, which will save you $15 bucks and ninety minutes you can (and should) spend more profitably elsewhere.
First, the spoiler. Two sooky privileged white girls live with their token rich daddy in the primogenital woods of Somewhere, America. I say firstborn woods because they don’t get identified in the film, so let’s call them Eden because that’s what the director’s reaching for. I say ‘token’ daddy, because he’s so laughably expendable — after several vomitous scenes where he proves, ad nauseum, what loving but fundamentally irrelevant human beings dads are in lesbian end-of-the-world fantasies, he stupidly kills himself (because men always stupidly kill themselves in female-directed films) in a totally predictable chainsaw accident after the electricity turns off, leaving his winsome daughters alone, literal babes in the wood.
So, the premises is this — inexplicably, unexpectedly, no power, and what happens next. Trot out the usual swift social decay. Naturally, the girls do the obvious: the make inventory of their resources, sit down and plan for the future, gather their tools, plant some seeds, fix the roof, conserve fuel, become wary of strangers, and form a co-op with the neighbours. Right? Wrong. One spends all her time dancing, the camera slithering over her taut body (but by a female director hence not creepy, right? it’s arty) while the other — the stereotypical ‘tomboy’ — preps for her now irrelevant exams. BTW — is there anything more pretentious than modern dance? Kill me now.
Anyhoo, their passivity is used to clumsily highlight that we’re over-reliant on technology. Yep, got it — but that isn’t even the point. At the end of this world, its all about the sisterhood and how familial bonds are stronger than all these male-oriented threats. Men only want to rape you, or lure you away from your sister! Men = evil. Riiiight. But that’s not entirely Rozema’s fault. When I picked up the cover and read ‘apocalyptic drama’ I wasn’t thinking of two chicks tossing salad in the woods while daddy rots in a shallow grave. I wasn’t expecting a zombie apocalypse, not even a kinda ‘The Road’ remake for lesbians, but seriously, instead of fixing the house they burn it to the ground and go live in a treehouse shaped like a vulva? GTFO! Rozema’s directing is dull, but the story is also utterly stultifying.
How about this: starring in my post-apocalyptic docu-drama are a pragmatic older couple suddenly bereft all the mod-cons. Not panicking, they plant lots of potatoes and barter with like-minded neighbours, occasionally banding together to fend off some lawless raider-types. Pooling resources and knowledge, they subsist reasonably comfortably until the government kickstarts a new society. Might be no more interesting than ‘Into the Forest’ but at least citizens could use it as a training video ahead of the inevitable SHTF demise of Western Society — you people need to get your EDC together, just sayin’ — my 5.11 is packed and ready.
So all you post-apocalyptic adrenaline junkies won’t get your fix here. Neither will the preppers, who achingly await something realistic. ‘Into the Forest’ is a retelling of a short novel (Jean Hegland’s ‘Dans la Forêt’) which maybe should have stayed on the page until somebody more talented brought it to the big screen. While we wait for something satisfying, maybe go back and rewatch ‘The Survivalist’ (2017).