Haunted Forest – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Directed by
Mauro Borrelli

Sevy Di Cione ………. Sean/Nodin
Adam Green ………. Josh
Mark Hengst ………. Roy McKane
Naomi Ueno ………. Kiyomi
Kiralee Hayashi ………. Satinka (as Kira Hayashi)
Edoardo Beghi ………. Flipp

Running Time: 81 minutes
Rated R
DVD Release date: June 26, 2007

Beefy Venezuelan Sevi Di Cioni stars as the tree-seeking Sean in Mauro Borrelli’s Haunted Forest. Guided by his “part-Cherokee” grandfather’s journal, Sean brings along a Brit and a pothead to aid him in his spiritual quest; They lose track of the pothead pretty quickly. Eventually they meet up with some chick who can’t find her car and who lost her friend whilst drinking some psychedelic flower juice. Unbeknownst to all of them, some of the crazy ghost stories in Grandpa’s diary are real, and it isn’t long before they suffer a series of mostly minor inconveniences in the Haunted Forest.

You see, there is a dead Indian girl named Satinka wandering around these ghostly woods. For the most part, she looks like any number of ghoulies you’ve seen before in any number of Japanese horror flicks or their American counterparts. The only difference is that Satinka has Lady Deathstrike fingers made out of tree-branches.

One by one, our characters find one of these malicious splinters in their skin. Subsequently, he or she meanders around the woods, apparently suffering from hypoglycemia, until said character is caught by a redneck hunter seeking ghostlike redemption. Then I think they might turn into trees or something; you know, like the end of every episode of USA’s “Swamp Thing.”

As much as Haunted Forest tries to be the original Evil Dead meets Ringu, it ends up being a lot more like Squirm meets The Legend of Boggy Creek. The acting is lousy. The script is full of b-movie cliches. Our director Borrelli appears to be completely baffled by such things as filming a conversation between three people. Framing this bad usually only occurs when a dad forgets to turn off his camcorder before strapping it to his screaming child’s stroller through the Field Museum of Natural History.

To top things off, the movie is incredibly tame. Today’s direct-to-dvd horror flicks are our closest equivalent to grindhouse pictures. They fly under the radar, they are ultra-low budget, and feature inexperienced film-makers. The problem is, the direct-to-dvd lot lacks that sense of “anything can happen” anarchy of those 1970s flicks. Haunted Forest is a perfect example of this thing. The film is perfectly content to use warmed-over cliches and not even go near the envelope, let aloe push it. It is surprisingly reserved, and the resulting movie is somewhat less scary than Ernest Scared Stupid. Apart from one eardrum popping scene, this film is wholly unremarkable and unmemorable.


Audio and Visual
The DVD is glitchy, and played slowly at multiple points.

The Extras
Trailers, scene selection and subtitles. Nothing to see here folks.

The DVD Lounge’s Rating for Haunted Forest
(OUT OF 10)