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Sideworld: Haunted Forests of England (2022) – Beautiful and Haunting

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Sideworld: Haunted Forests of England Plot

Sideworld: Haunted Forests of England is a documentary that explores the strange stories surrounding three of the most allegedly haunted forests in Britain, those being Wistman’s Wood, Cannock Chase and Epping Forest. Throughout the documentary, littered with beautiful dramatic shots taken at each of the haunting locations, we are told stories of great novels that were inspired by these places, ghost stories that they inspired or real-world bizarre events that took place in one of these locales. 

Sideworld: Haunted Forests of England (2022) - Beautiful and Haunting
Sideworld: Haunted Forests of England (2022) – Documentary Poster

Sideworld: Haunted Forests of England Review

With only an hour to work with, Sideworld: Haunted Forests of England uses every minute to let the unease of the forests slowly build. It’s a very slow ponderous film, using a combination of beautiful imagery from these haunted forests (Seriously, the director has found some incredible locations and filmed them so perfectly for a horror atmosphere that you inevitably scan every frame just looking for a corpse) and occasional ancient drawings to help create a mood that slowly gets more and more unnerving. It’s the kind of fascinating unnerving documentary that feels like at any second it’s going to explode into a jumpscare, but it never does.

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It’s also just a film worth looking at if you want to see some cinematographers showing off, every single shot of the three forests is absolutely gorgeous and haunting. It feels like we’re watching someone’s showreel in that sense, seeing that they can create some truly spectacular images that almost beg to be put on a giant screen at some point. You’ll find at least a few of the images so good you’ll undoubtedly wish, as this reviewer did, that you could print them to put on a wall because they are astoundingly beautiful. 

A beautiful and haunting forest featured in the Sideworld documentary
A beautiful and haunting forest featured in the Sideworld documentary

Sideworld: Haunted Forests of England is also smart in only picking three forests, giving each one roughly 20 minutes to be talked about but in that time fits in a ton of wild little stories about each of these places, from how one place was known as an execution hotspot to another that has something colloquially referred to as a ‘suicide lake’, each segment is just full of fascinating little stories about these locations that really lets you know how people could start seeing these places as haunted.

With the slow intentional pacing going on, and the very monotone delivery by the narrator, there is always the potential that an audience for Sideworld: Haunted Forests of England could get a little distracted. The film is trusting you to stay engaged with the stories and imagery it’s using, even though they are by nature mostly shots of empty woods and old ghost stories told with minimal inflection which makes it easier to drift off. 

Fortunately, at only an hour and with each forest getting 20 minutes each, it’s theoretically easy to just watch one forest story and then go off to do something stimulating before coming back for more. If you’re one of those people who do get easily distracted or maybe put on a movie while doing something else this is one where you might want to skip unless you’re in the right zone to give it your attention.

It doesn't get anymore Goth than creepy graveyards, as Sideworld demonstrates
It doesn’t get anymore Goth than creepy graveyards, as Sideworld demonstrates

Sideworld: Haunted Forests of England Overall

If you give Sideworld: Haunted Forests of England that attention you’ll be rewarded by a fascinating little film with gorgeous haunting visuals and a ton of great stories to tell at your next campfire meeting. It requires a little more pointed attention than most just due to its pacing and calmness but if you give it what it wants, you’re going to get something interesting in return. 

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