---------Review by contributing writer Scott Baker---------
Directed by Bill Barton
Distributed by Midnight Releasing
BLOOD FOREST is a low budget film set in Jasper, AR, a town located about 85 miles away from where I live. Although I’ve never visited Jasper, I would swear that the film was actually shot there; the town in the movie looks exactly like one you would find in this area. Unfortunately, a good filming location does not make up for a bad film.
If you’ve never heard of BLOOD FOREST, here’s the synopsis courtesy of director Bill Barton (via imdb.com):
Virgil Williams, an alcoholic down and out tabloid reporter from the UK is sent to Arkansas to investigate a Big Foot sighting and is caught between the town Sheriff and the last remaining brave from Arkansas's "Cave Tribe" and Vietnam vet, James Levi Wiley.
Here’s my biggest problem with BLOOD FOREST: even though it tries really hard to be a good film (and it ALMOST makes it there), its problems greatly outweigh its positives. As I have mentioned before, I find it difficult to butcher an indy filmmaker’s work. Most of them put their hearts and souls into their films. But although I am sympathetic, I feel it is my duty to be honest in my reviews and tell horror fans my candid, unfiltered opinions about what I watch.
As much as I want to like it, BLOOD FOREST fails on many levels. First and foremost is the acting. Again, I understand that low budget films have to make do with the best they can get. It’s just a shame that every person in this film lacks any sort of acting talent. When the extras aren’t flubbing their lines or rambling off-track, the main cast is trying to regurgitate their lines while showing some semblance of emotion. The acting is so bad that it makes some high school productions look like Oscar material.
The story, although semi-interesting in premise, is dull and lifeless. A British journalist is sent to little ol’ Jasper Arkansas to report on Bigfoot sightings. Really? Um…no. There is no way in hell that a company in the U.S. would send someone to Arkansas to follow up on Sasquatch, let alone a company from ACROSS THE ATLANTIC. Maybe a ‘creature of unknown origin’, sure…but not Bigfoot. No way.
And the whole thing about the last remaining brave from Arkansas’s Cave Tribe? I still have no clue what that is all about. It’s hinted around several times in the film and, from what I can tell, it’s supposed to be an integral part of the plot. But it’s never explained, never fleshed out, and just downright confusing.
The special effects are weak, with no gore gracing the screen and only a few traces of crimson here and there to indicate blood. A good horror film doesn’t have to have gore, but it sure would help in a case like this. It would at least have been something entertaining to watch.
Instead, all we have is a slow-paced, no-intensity movie that I can’t even label a thriller. There are no thrills, no suspense, and certainly no terror anywhere in it. When I say lifeless, I mean this film is about as animated as Pauly Shore’s career. In short, it’s dead and rotting.
And when the end comes, there’s no resolution either. Instead of at least seeing the terrifying creature that’s been killing people…we get a fade-to-black shot and a narrator saying something about how we have to draw our own conclusions and blah-blah-blah. I can certainly understand budgetary constraints that might prohibit the construction of a legitimate Bigfoot costume…but c’mon…I’d rather see a guy in a monkey suit than have to watch a cop-out ending like this.
The only positive comment I can make for BLOOD FOREST is that it truly highlights the beauty of Arkansas, with many of its scenes taking place in the woods. The scenery alone cannot save the film, though. BLOOD FOREST would better be served as a promotional reel to encourage tourism here in the Natural State.
CLICK HERE to watch the trailer
CLICK HERE to purchase the DVD
CLICK HERE to visit the official website
of Midnight Releasing