Deep in the Forest takes place in an alternative United States where an explosion happens at the Capitol which, naturally, leads to martial law imposed by the president in order to arrest his supposed enemies AKA Democrats.
This is the true beginning of the modern civil war and causes a small group of progressives who are part of a small insignificant democratic club (that is basically just an excuse to plan fundraisers and drink tea) to go to a house in the middle of nowhere and hide out until the end of the war, hoping they can survive even as their group battles with the problems of low supplies, health care issues and a potential enemy in their midst who would turn them in to the government in a heartbeat if he has the chance.
Deep in the Forest Review
Deep in the Forest’s premise is honestly not that bad, basically taking the events of Jan 6th at the capitol building and pushing them to the logical extreme. What would happen in the event that, somehow, that attack on American democracy had actually worked and started another civil war?
It’s a decent enough idea, one that could allow for an intriguing political thriller that shows just how close America came to being a fascistic dictatorship… but it doesn’t do that. Instead, it uses that event as a jumping point to put a handful of people in a small cabin and have them talk for 70 minutes about how screwed they are and the broad ideas of why America is actually super awesome – and it does it in a way that can only be described as dull.
From the very first moment, Deep in the Forest plays with political imagery pretty bluntly by just showing footage of assorted riots from protests on seemingly both sides, before we hear about the explosion at the Capitol (note I say ‘hear about’ not ‘show’, Deep in the Forest is fairly low budget so they can’t really afford to show us anything too extreme) and then get locked in the cabin.
It’s around that point when you realise that the political imagery being used is set dressing only, it’s there as an excuse to put the main cast in a room but it’s not there for anyone to say anything specific about the politics of the situation.
Instead of anything specific, what we basically get is your standard film about people getting locked up together where they slowly lose trust in each other, one person becomes drunk with power (in this case a woman, because progressive) and we just watch as the group slowly comes apart as the situation becomes worse.
For a film that barely makes it to feature-length, it’s amazing how slow and boring the bulk of the film feels because nothing happens. The discussions aren’t interesting, the only time they actually take advantage of the political scenario is to say “Hey, isn’t the constitution cool?” and by the time we get to the end, we don’t really know that much about the characters which is surprising since they address each other by their first and last names even though they all already know each other.
It also doesn’t help much that Deep in the Forest is basically relegated to a single cabin for almost the entire film, a cabin that we never leave because that would probably be outside the budget. It ends up making the film kinda dull to look at, there isn’t a single shot that’s interesting or tension building or even worth talking about. It’s flat, uninterested, almost pointedly trying to avoid doing anything interesting which is actually stunning considering the setup they gave themselves. Then again, Deep in the Forest seems to be actively trying to ignore the setups that it gives itself
The problem with Deep in the Forest isn’t that it’s political, it’s that it isn’t political enough. It uses the idea of politics, the appearance of it, the keywords that’ll make people think it’s trying to be political and failing but the truth is that it’s just not trying.
It’s not saying anything about war, fascism or the literal attempt to overthrow democracy that everyone witnessed almost 2 years ago, it doesn’t touch on anything that would actually be a political idea, which is wild for a film that literally put a burning capital building on the poster and has end credits where sections of the declaration of independence crossfade into the cast names. If you’re going to use political imagery, maybe make a political point while you’re at it, just a thought.
Deep in the Forest Overall
Deep in the Forest is just kind of dull. A lifeless thriller that says a lot of words but nothing of actual substance. Even at barely feature-length it’s not easy to sit through, it just feels like it goes through the motions. With characters so one dimensional that they can literally just drive off into the sunset without anyone giving a damn, a storyline so lacking in substance that it’s just kind of hard to care.
A political story that refuses to get political, it’s not that good or memorable in any real way.
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