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TIFF Review: Into the Forest

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into the forest

A continent-wide power outage results in two sisters having to survive in an apocalyptic world while living in a remote country house.

In the near future Robert (Callum Keith Rennie) lives with his two daughters in a modern home made out of glass and lumber surrounded by forest; Eva (Evan Rachel Wood) is devoted to ballet while Nell (Ellen Page) concentrates on her studies.  The ideal existence gets interrupted by the loss of electricity that results in a national crisis.

After a visit into town which reveals residents descending into a lawless and volatile behaviour, a decision is made by the patriarch of the family to wait out the crisis protected by their isolation.  The plan is undermined by a fateful accident which forces the two siblings to rely on each other to survive.

Callum Keith Rennie (Memento) radiates resourcefulness, wit, practicality and compassion which results in his death having the emotional wallop of a sledgehammer.  Ellen Page (Juno) does an admirable job of playing someone trying to make the best out of a bad situation while Evan Rachel Wood (The Missing) coolly portrays a diva.  The perspective of the crisis never goes beyond the two girls which results in the audience being solely invested in them.

The male supporting roles of Max Minghella (The Social Network) and Michael Eklund (The Call) represent the best and worse of humanity with Eklund amplifying the creepiness factor.  Despite the paired down cast Into the Forest never feels like a stage play.  Breaking from convention, a thankful and wise decision is made to avoid the introduction of a love triangle.

Filmmaker Patricia Rozema (Mansfield Park) makes effective use of out of focus imagery to indicate an unwanted presence and cleverly shifts the framing to emphasize the emotional trauma a character is experiencing.  If the pacing of the opening act had been maintained throughout Rozema would have crafted a tense thriller; however, the story drags on like catastrophe being depicted.

3-out-of-5

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