Sunday, August 06, 2006

Vamp or Not? Forest of the Damned

Contains spoilers

A 2005 film, which was directed by Johannes Rimmes and set in England, Forest of the Damned is a low budget film – shot on digi-cam – that opens with a quotation from Enoch 6:1-6. The reason for the quote, about angels lusting after the comely daughters born to man, is because the creatures in this movie are fallen angels.

During the film we get some background to these creatures, supplied by a backwoods madman (Dan van Husen) type, who says that they are angels who were tossed out of heaven because they became infected by sexual desire and now they seduce and then brutally kill their victims.

The film itself opens with the scene of a man and woman making out in the woods. Suddenly they stop and they see a naked woman who walks towards them. The man is fascinated by her and walks towards her, as the woman backs off. She begins to kiss him and then her mouth is full of sharpened teeth and she bites into his neck. The woman is surrounded by other such creatures.

The main film follows the exploits of a group of young people on a road trip in a clapped out van. There is Emilio (Richard Cambridge), his bitchy sister Ally (Sophie Holland) and his friends, Molly (Nicole Petty), Andrew (David Hood) and John (Steve Hart). They get to a gas station, at night, when they are accosted by the crazy man. They drive off through the night but it seems that Emilio is falling asleep at the wheel and hits the girl from the beginning of the movie, who stumbles out of the woods, subsequently crashing and wrecking the van – though later he says that he did not fall asleep but was distracted when he saw something in the woods that wasn’t human.

With the van dead and their phones unable to get a signal they notice a letter box and realise there must be a house nearby. Then they… wait for it… split up. Emilio and Ally stay with the girl and the other three go look for the house, but when they find the path splitting off they separate again. Andrew, who goes off on his own, sees three naked women frolicking in a pool and joins them and the other two find a house.

The interior is a mess, but they find sketches of bacchanalian orgies and so they split up, one searching up and the other down. Yes we are in horror cliché central with all the splitting up. John and Molly are captured and tied up by the house owner, Stephen (the woefully under-used Tom Savini). Much of the film plots their attempts to escape, whilst their friends are killed by the fallen angels, described by the DVD box as nymph creatures.

It seems that Stephen’s parents were killed by the nymphs and he is now obsessed with them and the kids are to be, you could say, sacrifices to allow him to observe them. The nymphs themselves can go out in the day (not a necessary problem for certain vampires anyway) but seem to hunt at night - with the exception of Andrew who blithly walked into a pool with them. They are always naked. They mesmerise their victims with their eyes and their lust for sex is never sated as they tend to eat their victims rather too quickly, there is the ripping and rending of flesh as well as blood drinking. At one point we see a nymph showering herself with blood from Ally’s severed head. The teeth are not a permanent feature and appear when they attack. At one point Molly axes a nymph but it is not clear whether the creature dies or not.

We end up with only Molly and John left alive and the ending of the film strays into weirdness. They hole up until daybreak but end up kissing. We then see Molly sprout the teeth. This is not explained but presumably is a hallucination. Some Blair Witch type camera action (there is a lot of arty filters and night vision sporadically used) and then John falls down a hill amongst a group of nymphs and is ripped apart. Holly makes it back to the van but is collared by a nymph. The nymph begins to kiss her and then is repelled by her cross. Now this fits in with the fallen angel aspect but also with vampire lore.

We cut forward one year and Molly is picked up by none other than horror writer Shaun Hutson (in a surprising cameo) who is researching the missing persons in the area for a book. The car stops as a tyre is burst by barbed wire on the road. He is knocked out by Molly, just after he realises she is one of the missing persons, taken to the house, handcuffed and left to the nymphs. She watches as he is attacked and his head ripped off.

The film isn’t too bad (for what it is), but it is cheap. There are horror clichés aplenty, poor sound quality, too much darkness and poor acting. There is an over reliance on arty shots that seem odd or even out of place and the story gets muddled at times. That said, is it vamp?

For this I’m running on the sporting of fangs, the sexual nature of the creatures, the bloodlust (I don’t mind a vampire going for flesh as well as blood), the shining hypnotic eyes and the repelling by the cross. Through the film there is the warning, don’t look into their eyes. As fallen angels we can also assume, though it isn’t actually said, some form of immortality, but whether they have any intelligence or if they are simply animalistic is never really explored – that said they do screech a lot when out of sight. The conversion of Molly into one of them seems, as I said, a hallucination moment but whether that was projected to John by the nymphs is a mystery. However it is clear that she converts into a worshipper of the creatures or even a Renfield type.

For those reasons I’m going to go for Vamp, although these ones are of a very different origin to the normal ones we meet – ie an angelic origin.

As a bit of trivia, please note that Dan van Husen has been in such genre films as Nosferatu (1979) and Killer Barbys Vs Dracula (2002). Horror legend Tom Savini was in the genre pictures Martin (1977), Innocent Blood (1992) and From Dusk ‘til Dawn (1996).

A film homepage with trailer is here.

The imdb page is here.

1 comment:

JW said...

I'm watching it right now. It's OK.