[#Fantasia2023 Review] A Park Ranger’s Mind Unravels in The Woods of LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP

In the heart of an impenetrable forest, a solitary park ranger named Lennon (portrayed by Georgina Campbell, who horror fans will no doubt recognize from 2022’s Barbarian), embarks on a journey that is as much about her own murky past as it is about the uncanny wilderness that engulfs her. Lovely, Dark, and Deep, the debut feature from Teresa Sutherland (writer of Emma Tammi’s The Wind) is a folk horror-lite nightmare that, while filled with rich and haunting imagery, often loses its way.

Having finally secured a job as a ranger in a remote outpost, Lennon finds herself in an environment that is as captivating as it is unsettling. The forest, cloaked in whispers of strange disappearances and conspiracy theories, becomes a character in its own right. Its vastness both awe-inspiring and intimidating. However, as Lennon adapts to her minimalist existence, the line between reality and illusion begins to blur, leading to a confusing and disjointed narrative.

 

“…for folk horror fans who appreciate ambiguous slow burns”

 

Campbell’s performance is commendable, portraying Lennon’s gradual descent into madness with conviction. However, the character’s journey often feels aimless, like a lost puppy stumbling through a Halloween maze of unconnected scare zones. Sutherland’s direction, while ambitious, struggles to maintain a cohesive narrative, resulting in a tale that operates on a dreamlike logic that is more bewildering than intriguing.

The cinematography, while capturing the forest’s breathtaking beauty and the crushing loneliness of Lennon’s situation, often feels at odds with itself, shifting gears between claustrophobic and expansive. The camera work, while visually stunning, fails to compensate for the narrative’s lack of clarity. The “villain”, wavering between a vague force of nature and a Lovecraftian deity, lacks a solid identity. The central mystery, while intriguing at first, is somewhat predictable, undermining the intended surprise of the third act.

 

“lures viewers in with its atmospheric storytelling and a compelling performance.”

 

Lovely, Dark, and Deep is a film that, despite its narrative shortcomings, still manages to lure in viewers with its atmospheric storytelling and a compelling performance. It’s cinematography, capturing both the breathtaking beauty and crushing loneliness of the forest, is a sight to behold. While it may not be a perfect film, it certainly has its merits.

This is a movie for folk horror fans who appreciate ambiguous slow burns, offering a journey into the heart of the forest and the human psyche that, while occasionally losing its way, still provides an intriguing exploration of the unknown. Although left with room for improvement between now and its eventual release, Lovely, Dark, and Deep holds a certain allure for those willing to venture into its depths.

Teresa Sutherland’s Lovely, Dark, and Deep celebrated its World Premiere at the 2023 Fantasia Film Festival. Click HERE to follow our continued coverage of the festival and be sure to let us know what you think of this supernatural slow-burn over Twitter, Threads, or in the Nightmare on Film Street Discord! Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.



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[#Fantasia2023 Review] A Park Ranger’s Mind Unravels in The Woods of LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP
TL;DR
Lovely, Dark, and Deep is a film that, despite its narrative shortcomings, still manages to lure in viewers with its atmospheric storytelling and a compelling performance. It's cinematography, capturing both the breathtaking beauty and crushing loneliness of the forest, is a sight to behold. While it may not be a perfect film, it certainly has its merits.
Story
40
Cinematogrpahy
75
Atmosphere
60
Performances
70
61
SCORE
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