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Before seeing Spider Forest last night at the Toronto International Film Festival (agree with comments by cbranje, the ROM theatre is not the best at masking outside sounds, though the occasional rumble of the subway did add an extra shot of tension to some of the more suspenseful scenes), I'd heard it described as a film for those who liked 'Mulholland Drive' but found it too linear. While I don't think it's a very accurate statement, the film does invite comparisons to David Lynch. The creepy tone, gruesome murder scene, elliptical narrative structure, and ambiguous plot resolution are all Lynchian trademarks but I think Spider Forest is a little more straightforward or at least it lends itself more readily to a range of interpretations.
The set up: a man wakes in the forest, discovers the mutilated corpses of coworkers in a house in a forest, and pursues a man he believes to be the killer. Though most of the ensuing story is told in what may be hazy, and possibly wholly fictitious, recollections of the past, each memory recreates a moment of truth that one could easily see as happening to this man. We see him mourn the loss of his wife then hear other stories about death and loss and wonder, are these manifestation's of one event or separate incidents that actually occurred.
The film poses epistemological questions like: How do we know that we know? What differentiates consciousness from sleep? Is what we consider reality merely our continual reconstruction of our past experiences? For me, figuring out what's happened to the main character in 'Spider Forest' is akin to piecing together the fragments of a bizarre dream, but with the pleasure of seeing these fragments unfold in a series of beautifully shot frames.
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