In 1940 the entire population of a small New England town suddenly up and walk off into the woods and are never seen again. Sixty years later someone is finally curious enough to haul a team up there to investigate the mystery, and I'm not being sarcastic when I say you'll never guess what they find.

hey cool
I want there to be a place like this, and I want to live smack in the middle of it
but YUCK
Ending doesn't completely liquify the brain

Here's where you're going to be glad you somehow accidentally inexplicably ended up on my website and clicked something. Let's be honest, most of these reviews are completely irrelevant. This time though I swear it's going to be different. This time I'm bringing to your attention an actual under the rader underrated but brilliant horror film that you probably didn't know existed or just noticed for a second and kept scrolling 'cause of the two star rating and the DVD having the same cover as about eight other movies.

This is also one of those times when I don't want to step all over the scenes by describing them. You're supposed to watch movies not read about them for god's sake. I'm saying it's pretty good check it out. Stop reading. Who are you going to believe, me your trusted friend or the horizontal forehead types on Amazon or imdb who slur comments like

Alright I'm not going to get on an intellectual high horse here and impune the cerebral capacity of those who don't dig the film, at least no more than I already did just there, but if you're the sort of person who has ever typed "Chernobyl real estate" into a search engine this is right up your deserted alley.

I like monsters and rogue animals climbing the food chain and masked asylum escapees stabbing up the teenagers as much as the next guy - in fact I'd say I like it way more than the next guy - but while murder and creature based violence provides catharsis it doesn't feed all the grubs. Sometimes one needs that sense of the weird and fantastic, something to penetrate those hard to reach cranial cracks. As I've said before, the weird place is my favourite genre of horror. So welcome to the crazy forest, where the deeper you go the crazier it gets.

I live alone in the woods and have done since before Leprechaun movies were invented so this may be a bit more personal for me than for those who can see houses and ape heirarchy happening out their windows. After a few decades I'm not sure I'd be all that surprised to hear Victrola music coming from the trees. I'm saying my love of this movie may be a case of unreliable narrator. But if my objectivity can still be trusted I'll go ahead and talk about it now since I assume you've just seen it and loved it or were too dumb and it doesn't matter.

For starters the cast are completely believable. I'm not necessarily saying I can relate to the characters 'cause you know, heaven forbid, but they do seem like actual people instead of employees reading lines and the difference from most horror movies is really noticeable. I never know whether to compliment the actors or the director for good performances but today I'm arbitrarily going with the director. I believe a major aspect of what is called talent is simply the ability to recognise when something is right and when it's wrong, and it seems to me that if you make a performer deliver a line or pretend to be stabbed enough times it's eventually going to be right even if by accident. A good director will know when that moment has or has not occurred.

Although I have to say actress Laura Heisler must suffer from dissociative identity disorder to have portrayed her "character" that effectively, and would have done so even had the film been directed by...there's this director I keep wanting to rip but I'm trying to be less of a prick on these so-called reviews. Follow your dreams people; you can direct over 150 shite movies and still get hired for more.

I dig the strange deaths. Done without the usual staged drama and orchestra hits. The leg being pulled off during the first kill was maybe a bit Monty Python but overall it was a jarring gut punch scene that shocked the characters and threw the movie into a different gear, and a perfect transition from vaguely ominous to oh shit. For some reason I love kill scenes shot from a distance instead of the usual ultra closeups. Maybe it seems more authentic, like how we'd actually see it. Every death is memorable and unique to the character - the ironic suicide of the shrink guy, the excrutiating neck twist sequence between the guide and the deranged local girl, and the mousy intern realising she has utterly faded from relevance simply exits the film without notice. These are real horror movie scenes, not just kill reel gags.

And the music. Sound basically becomes the movie's monster, and a fantastic and terrifying monster it is. It would have been easy to just have the music playing faintly here and there, like are we really hearing it? And to its credit the film does take the time to build it up that way but then it's suddenly full blast cranked to eleven what the goddam hell, and I love it. The movie took a big chance here as done even slightly wrong that could have come off silly but it's nailed and like nothing I've seen before.

Inexplicable events are normally presented with sleight of hand, leaving at least some doubt whether they're real. And for good reason - having a ghost that everyone can see hanging out in every shot would obviously kill a haunted house movie. But what if something like that really happened? What if we all woke up one day and the sky had turned into a Bugs Bunny cartoon? At some point we'd have to stop looking at it and get on with life. This movie has the guts to present its characters with an undeniable yet impossible situation and their reaction to it is perfect.

The only problem with this sort of story is that it's a lot easier to make an interesting mess than it is to clean it up, so they tend to have a bit of difficulty in the matter of ending the picture. As I see it there are basically two ways to end a vague or ambiguous plot. One is to simply stop with no explanation. It's the easy way out but sometimes the best. Blair Witch pulled it off perfectly. The riskier method, and the one most filmmakers choose, is to try to blow the audience's mind with a big oh my god I can't believe it I now question the nature of reality ending. It's really, really hard to do because we've all seen just about every concievable way a film can end. And in trying one risks retroactively spoiling it by leaving a ridiculous final impression on the viewer.

This film kinda rides the fence. It doesn't void itself or crap its pants at the end. The movie's Wizard of Oz, so to speak, was a fantastic character. The final image of Hell was poster-worthy and I disagree with the director that it would have looked better with loads of CG. But all that said, my mind remains unblown. I feel no (additional) compulsion to start muttering to myself and scratching seemingly random numbers on every inch of my walls. I can forgive the movie this because I have IRL cabin fever but you might want to do some shrooms or something.