José Pedro Lopes' "The Forest Of The Lost Souls" is an expressive, stylized thriller exploring the macabre, and yet emotional story of suicide. The film stars Daniela Love, Lígia Roque, Mafalda Banquart, Tiago Jácome, and Débora Ribeiro. The story is a focused psychological melodrama told smoothly in almost melancholic, artistic fashion.
Ricardo and Carolina are complete strangers that meet seemingly by chance in the “Forest of the Lost Souls”, a place where many people go to commit suicide. These two, a young woman and an old man, are no different than the others as they also came to the forest for this very reason.
They decide to briefly postpone killing themselves in order to explore the forest and also to continue talking to one another, as Ricardo and Carolina find themselves intrigued by one another. However, as the pair go further into the forest it becomes clear that one of them has other reasons for being in the forest and is not who they would have the other believe them to be and is actually a psychopath.
The film's premise focuses on the dark nature of people who contemplate and act upon thoughta of suicide. Lopes explores these "lost souls" in a well-paced, arthouse style. Shown in black-n-white "The Forest Of The Lost Souls" places the macabre nature of his subject material upfront, while maintaining a sensitive heartfelt approach. The film never meanders into exploitative ground.
The film isn't a thriller in the mainstream sense. There is no shock or gore and the pace never really hits the high octave levels of horror, but Lopes' film never intended to be that kind of movie. Instead it is a chilling, slow-burn character study which develops into a psychological overture of sorts. The dialog is minimal but when present, very substantial and compelling. The cast bring these characters to life and worthy of investment. And the twist that happens midway through is brilliant.
Overall "The Forest Of The Souls" is a well thought out slice of expressiveness. Created solely from the point of view of arthouse, the film is intended for a select audience. Mainstream, non-adventurous, horror fans will not enjoy this one. For the rest, especially those who are into exploring different storytelling mediums, this is a masterfully, dark and captivating slice of macabre. (5/5)