Firstly, the acting in this film isn’t great. The main girls do just fine and a couple in particular could probably become quite good in the future, but everyone else is quite boring and flat. Scullard isn’t helped with the fact that his character is written as such a stereotype that it’s not that interesting. It feels like this movie was written by a man trying to write a story about female empowerment but just went about it in the least subtle way possible by going with the stereotypical woman-beater who would probably punch his girlfriend for not having the dinner done on time. Peter doesn’t even hide his horrible nature from Emily’s friends at the beginning, and might as well have “I’m the worst” tattooed on his forehead. On the other hand, Peter’s attempt at emotional manipulation is one detail that redeems the writing for his character. However, there is also the problem that in the parts of the film that don’t focus on Emily and her friends or Peter, it puts too much time into characters that have no relevance the main plot or characters. They’re literally just there to get killed, which would be fine if there wasn’t as much screen time put into showing what they’re doing (which isn’t anything particularly exciting). If the idea behind this was to have more of an impact when they’re killed, then it didn’t quite succeed.
At times the sound mixing could have been better, but in terms of the score some of the music was enjoyable. There were some scenes where the music was distracting and seemed a little out of place. This issue could also have been because of the contrast between modern pop style music being used in contrast with synth tracks reminiscent of the 80s, very similar to what’s used in ‘It Follows’ (2014). It might have been better if it stuck with one style or the other, especially if it had just gone full on 80s since that’s where the film’s influences clearly come from (‘Friday the 13th’ being the most obvious one).
Overall, it seems like ‘Dark Forest’ was made because of a passion for 80s slasher movies, but it doesn’t feel like it fully commits to what it’s trying to do. The writing could have been more subtle, but it still manages to be an entertaining watch despite its issues.