When I was about ten years old, my class had a cun day in the woods, a short drive from where we lived. Years have passed since then, but I remember the activity involved some sort of competitive game, probably a treasure hunt. I moved a little away from the group of children and parents to find some surprises – because, inside a scary forest, there is a lot to see and explore. Then I saw it: an abandoned car in the forest’s heart, with red stains on the windshield. The colors looked precisely like…blood. “Holly molly! they really nailed it in this activity,” I thought. “Well done! It looks pretty realistic.”
The years have passed, and this memory of that scary forest occasionally echoes in my head. As I realized right at the end of the activity, unfortunately, this car was not part of it. And yes, likely, these were not blood stains on the windshield either, but something that makes a dreamy child’s imagination work overtime. The truth is that it may not have been a coincidence at all. Forests are a location with the potential to be very creepy, especially (but not only) if you get lost inside a scary woods at night. The advantage is that the films can present this scenario in the safe conditions of the big or small screen. Paraphrasing that well-known philosophical question, if a severed head falls in the forest and no one hears the person’s scream, it just impaled, is that person really dead? Well, in the case of horror forest movies, the answer to this is quite clear: yes, at least within the inner world of the film.
There are quite a few horror movies about forests that created some super creepy atmospehee, took advantage of their natural benefits of the woods, and presented some threats: It could be a witch, a secret cult, cannibalistic creatures, and many other things. Here is a review of some of the most exciting scary forest movies, some even very successful.
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Which Horror Movies About Forests Out There?
Evil Dead (1981)
“Evil Dead” begins like many other films on our list: a group of young people, led by Ash (the excellent Bruce Campbell), vacationing in a secluded forest and encountering some malevolent entities. In this case, the group discovers the book of the dead in the cabin and releases a malicious tape, which soon releases spirits that attack the unfortunate members in creative ways: from physical assault, rape, and murder by trees, to a chilling takeover of some of them that include crazy songs, curses, and distorted voices. The film created some cult scenes but didn’t really do well at the box office back than. Critics were also mixed about it.
Over the years, “Evil Dead” has acquired the status of a cult film, quite rightly. And it’s not over yet. Don’t miss the two sequels: “Evil Dead 2” (1987) and “Army of Darkness” (1992), the best of the trilogy in the opinion of the writer of these lines, also because he took it in a new, original and more humorous direction. The franchise also had a successful TV series (Ash Vs. Evil Dead) and a not-bad 2013 remake, which is the fourth film in the series.
Soon we will see “Evil Dead Rise,” the fifth in the franchise, which looks very promising. As far as we understand, its location will not be a forest this time, but a residential building, where two distant sisters (Lily Sullivan and Alyssa Sutherland) meet after a long time. They discover a book deep in the apartment and awaken demons, who, according to tradition, take over one of them and try to slaughter all the residents of the building.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
“The Blair Witch Project” is considered one of the most important independent films in recent decades, and one of the well known scary forest movies. The film, directed by Daniel Meyrick and Eduardo Sánchez, is regarded as the prototype of the Found Footage films, or as they
are commonly called: “thriller and horror films in which the plot is the raw materials of lost video recordings, allegedly made by the characters. Well, you know, Movies like The Blair Witch Project.” In truth, however, there were Found Footage films long before “The Blair Witch Project.”
The “Blair Witch Project” consists of the material allegedly filmed by three film students who go out into the woods in the Maryland area to investigate the local legend about the Blair Witch. According to the stories, she would bring the unfortunate boys in the forest to her cabin, putting one facing the wall while the other was subjected to terrible torture. “The Blair Witch Project” was undoubtedly a compelling and surprising film for its time, with some chilling scenes and an ending that left people sitting in their seats for extended minutes – Simply because they didn’t realize the movie was over. Only in the following years did viewers get used to understanding that the breaking of the camera and the cut, usually when the camera man dies, also indicates the end of the film.
Here’s that famous ending scene. You are welcome to watch, of course, only if you haven’t had the chance to watch the entire movie yet:
“The Blair Witch Project” is considered one of the great successes of cinema, certainly if you think it’s ridiculous budget, even if it seems to have aged a little since then. It had an unnecessary sequel (“The Blair Witch Project 2”) that mostly destroyed what the first film built, and a 2016 remake (“Blair Witch”) that was so frantic it gave viewers headaches and migraines. A TV series has been in the works for years but is still in its infancy.
Wrong Turn (2003)
It is likely that if “Wrong Turn” had come out before that activity in the forest from the first paragraph, I would not have rushed to leave my classmates. The first film in this busy franchise (as of today, we have reached six sequels and a reboot from 2021, which took a somewhat surprising direction) is also the best out of these scary woods movies.
“Wrong Turn” tells the story of a group, who unfortunately stumbles into a forest in the Alps region with a tribe of twisted and giggling cannibals. The first original film offered a great cast (including Eliza Dushku, Jeremy Sisto, and Kevin Zegers) and impressive Gore scenes. A guilty pleasure for fans of this type of film.
So it’s true that most of the sequels were unnecessary, and some of them were particularly bad, but there’s no doubt that “Wrong Turn” developed an entire generation’s fear of shortcuts. Especially those that take place within the confines of some scary forest.
The Cabin In The Woods (2012)
We don’t have to introduce you to “The Cabin In The Woods,” which many will define as a cult film, right? Still, if you have yet to see this science-fiction horror comedy, you should make time for it. The film was written and directed by Drew Goddard (who also wrote the excellent “Cloverfield” and then “World War Z,” “Deadpool 2” and “The Martain”), received excellent reviews from critics, and was doing some money at the box office.
It is impossible to write too much about this film – rather than the fact that it is one of the well known scary woods movies – without referring to the rather brilliant idea behind it, which – let’s put it this way – corresponds very much with the horror genre and its subgenres. Just like others horror forest movies, you will find a group of young people (among them Chris Hemsworth in an impressive performance) who arrive at the cabin and are slaughtered one by one by creatures that come from the best horror movies.
One can analyze the movie on many levels (here is one of the examples), which cannot be said for all Holywood forest movies list.
The Witch (2015)
Anya Taylor Joy is one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood. To “regular” viewers, she is identified as Elizabeth (Beth) Harmon, the main character in Netflix’s massive chess hit, “The Queen’s Gambit”. Horror fans will recognize her as one of the favorite actresses in the genre, up to the level of “Scream Queen,” for all intents and purposes. Her horror resume includes “Morgan” (2016), “Split” (2016), “Marrowbone”(2017), “Glass” (2019), “The New Mutants” (2021, which had some touches of horror), “Last Night in Soho” (2021) and recently “The Menu” (2022).
Anya Taylor-Joy’s first appearance on our screens was in the critically acclaimed 2015 period horror drama “The Witch”. In this movie, a witch inhabits the farm of a poor family. At first, she kidnaps the baby and makes life miserable for the whole family, especially Thomasin, played by Taylor Joy.
The movie is relatively slow and doesn’t include too many jump scares. Instead, “The Witch” tries to create a creepy atmosphere and offers excellent acting and an intelligent script. If you ask me and the critics, who raved about this movie, the answer is yes.
The Forest (2016)
We have already reviewed the suicide forest of Japan, which is considered one of the creepiest locations there is: because how could it be otherwise in a forest where, according to reports, there are masses of spirits, and hundreds of people commit suicide each year? Under these conditions, it is perhaps surprising that it took a very long time to see a horror film about the forest.
The film, starring Natalie Dormer (in the double role), is about a young woman named Sara who goes to the Aokigahara forest to look for traces of her sister, who according to the latest reports, came there intending to commit suicide. Accompanied by a tourist reporter and a local guide, Sarah goes into the forest and quickly discovers that the stories of the horror it holds are far from a myth. She encounters ghosts, demons, strange phenomena, and many scares, some “cheap” and some quite effective.
The film is far from a masterpiece and includes flaws in the directing and the script. Still, it is enjoyable, and above all – it presents the exciting story of the forest that is considered one of the most famous in the world. If you’re into scary forest movies, give it a shot.
The Ritual (2017)
“The Ritual” is one of Netflix’s most talked about horror movies; you should give it a chance. “The Ritual” is a British production about a group of men going backpacking through some scary forest paths in Sweden to overcome trauma. Six months earlier, their friend was murdered through the direct fault of one of the guys, and they decide to go on a journey in his memory.
The four, who have probably never seen a horror movie, choose to take a shortcut and come across a long series of supernatural phenomena, strange symbols, and weird situations. In the process, the male ego will work overtime, so you can expect senseless arguments, accusations, and beatings between those who are supposed to be friends.
As you can tell from the film’s name, in the end, they discover that they have fallen into some ritual in which they will be sacrificed to a monster. The film’s ending is disappointing, but you still get a rather enjoyable hour and a half here, with some well-made moments.
A Classic Horror Story (2021)
“A Classic Horror Story” is another movie in the Netflix catalog, this time in an Italian production. The story will seem familiar to you, especially if you read this scary forest movie review. The main character is Alyssa (the mesmerizing Matilda Lutz, “Revenge” and “The Rings”), who goes to her parent’s house to perform, perhaps, an abortion. She uses a travel-sharing app and goes on a journey with a travel blogger, a doctor, and an annoying couple. After that, they get into a car accident due to the dead body of a stray goat; they wake up and find themselves in the heart of a forest, not understanding where they are or how on earth they got there.
You can expect every familier scares and scenes in this kind of movie: terrifying scarecrows hanging on a pig’s head, screams from an unknown source, creepy girls, and also people who are imprisoned and some of them are murdered. The movie nightmare is surprising or unbelievable, depending on who you ask. Without sinning with spoilers, we’ll just note that similar to “The Cabin In The Woods,” and as the name of the film suggests, the result is very reflexive.