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Film / Into the Forest

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Into the Forest is a 2016 Canadian post-apocalyptic drama film written and directed by Patricia Rozema, based on the debut novel of the same name by Jean Hegland.

Starring Elliot Page and Evan Rachel Wood, the story follows two sisters, Nell and Eva, struggling to survive in a secluded forest home during a Big Blackout that has caused a collapse of society.

Not to be confused with the 2014 musical Into the Woods.


  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Judging by the slightly futuristic computers the family has in the beginning, the film takes place a few years into the future.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Stan rapes Eva in the film. In the book he was a one-note character that only appears in the store and the rapist is a stranger.
  • Apocalypse How: An unexplained nationwide blackout causes society to break down.
  • Big Blackout: The plot-triggering event. It's never revealed what caused it or how wide it spreads. Could be Class 0 or Class 2
  • Canada Does Not Exist: Unless you notice the initials of the news network briefly visible in an early scene, you'd be forgiven for assuming that the film takes place in America. No one mentions the name of the country, and Nell is studying for the SAT, something a bit more ubiquitous in the US than in Canada. The original novel is set in California. It's made even more confusing when they speak of going East... to Boston, instead of say Montreal.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Stan, the big box store clerk in the first act, returns in the third act.
  • Child by Rape: One of the two protagonist sisters, Eva, finds she's pregnant after a man she bought gas from earlier in the film rapes her. Eva decides against getting an abortion as Nell suggests. Instead, Nell helps her give birth and they end up intending to raise the baby together.
  • Cosy Catastrophe: Despite the challenges brought on by the collapse of society and the loss of many luxuries and convinces that civilization afforded them, Nell and Eva are for the most part able to do just fine for themselves in their idyllic secluded forest home despite having essentially regressed back to pre-industrial levels of technology.
  • Creator Provincialism: The original novel takes place in Northern California, but the Canadian film adaptation takes place in Canada, not that you'd notice.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Nell complains that she can't study without electricity, her father tells her that she must use the "ancient technology" of books. Much later, she actually realizes that she can use the family library to learn some useful survival skills.
    • Eva and Nell complain that nothing works in the house that their father built. This foreshadows both his death due to a poorly reassembled chainsaw and the house's eventual collapse.
    • Eva warns Nell not to get pregnant after she starts seeing Eli, since taking care of a baby would be difficult for them. Later in the film it's Eva who becomes pregnant due to rape by a man they met briefly before. Despite what she said and Nell suggesting an abortion, Eva decides to keep it, with the pair making things work.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Stan the clerk gives the family a free box of candles and a hefty discount on the rest of their survival supplies, saying that the community needs to stick together. He returns in the third act to rape Eva and steal the family's gas and car.
  • Gasoline Lasts Forever: There's never any concern about whether the sisters' gasoline will go bad, though this may simply be due to their ignorance. After at least a few months, it still powers the generator perfectly fine. After at least 15 months of storage, the gas is still volatile enough to be set ablaze with a spark, which might be possible.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: After Eva gets pregnant due to rape, though her sister Neil suggests an abortion, and even looks up how to induce one in a medical book she has, Eva decides against doing so, saying she doesn't want to lose anything else. In the end, Nell helps her give birth and they intend to raise the baby together.
  • Happier Home Movie: Eva argues that they should use some gasoline to, in part, watch home movies of the sisters' late parents, but Nell refuses on practical grounds. After Nell dodges an unwanted pregnancy, she relents, and the pair watch old movies of the family in happier times.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the Happier Home Movie, the father holds up a sign introducing the clip as a "Heartwarming home movie."
  • Minimalist Cast: The bulk of the film is just Nell and Eva, alone in the forest. There are three other important supporting roles.
  • No Ending: The film ends with the two sisters and Eva's newborn camping in the woods, without a home or a clear idea of how they'll survive. There is no indication of whether the blackout will ever end.
  • No Bikes in the Apocalypse: The family's only transportation choices are walking or using the family car because Robert had recently given their bikes away to some poor kids.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted, as Nell is relieved over getting hers after having unprotected sex with Eli.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Nell and Eva's dad dies early on due to an accident with the chainsaw.
    • Nell and Eva's mother apparently died sometime prior to the events of the film. She's only seen in home videos from years before (though the last don't seem that long ago). It's possibly implied in the last film that she's sick, and if so this probably wasn't too long prior to her death.
  • Rape as Drama: Eva is raped by Stan at the beginning of the third act.
  • Riddle for the Ages: What was going on with that car by the roadside? Robert retreats and drives the family away before we get any clear picture.
  • Skewed Priorities: Played for drama with Nell's academic study and Eva's dancing. They could be using that time and energy to help them survive, but they're still holding onto their identities in civilized society.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: A downplayed example. Eva is more emotional, while Nell is more rational.
  • This Is My Side: After a fight, Eva staples curtains over all the windows in her dance studio and avoids all interaction with Nell.
  • The Load: While Nell becomes quite the competent survivor over the film, Eva is nothing but trouble. Instead of contributing to the upkeep of the house, she just spends her time practicing her dancing, whining about the lack of electricity and begging to use the generator. She does chop some wood once. In the final act she doubles-down on being a load by keeping her pregnancy (counter to her own advice) and burdening the family with a baby to care for.
  • Trash the Set: The film ends with the sisters burning the house down.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What becomes of Eli's group is never revealed.
  • The World's Expert (on Getting Killed): Robert, the father, has all of the family's useful technical skills. He dies in the first act, leaving Nell and Eva to fend for themselves.