Do your research (The Forest, 2016)
A little background knowledge goes a long way. How long is the route? Where is the nearest clean water? Is it a popular suicide spot? Are there a ton of angry Japanese ghosts? The latter two points are generally pretty good indicators that perhaps you should be tramping somewhere else this year, however it’s precisely the reason that The Forest’s Sara Price (Natalie Dormer) finds herself in the Aokigahara Forest, on the trail of her twin sister: it’s a genuinely notorious hare kare destination in Japan. Yeah, we’ll stick to Center Parcs, thanks.
Learn to communicate (The Lobster, 2015)
It’s important to have an open communication line – or at least let people know where you are. But while it’s good to talk, sometimes it’s even better to sign. The lovestuck duo from The Lobster, hiding out among the trees with the strict rebels, disguise their forbidden love for each other with a convoluted series of slightly awkward signals, all of which want to make us ‘raise our left arm’ in appreciation.
Look out for the local wildlife (The Revenant, 2015)
Some people say that man is the most dangerous animal. Those people have obviously never had an 8ft angry grizzly bear threatening to give more than a love bite. This though is what is looming down on Hugh Glass’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) throat in The Revenant – so intense that the early reviews suggested the ugly ursine encounter was even more ‘intimate’ than a brutal mauling. Either way, you’re going to need more than a Band Aid for that.
Be nice to the natives (The Green Inferno, 2016)
Making contact with a lost, endangered tribe might sound great in theory, although you should probably clarify exactly what sort of contact you’ll be making before you start shining up that Nobel prize. Like the hapless do-gooders in The Green Inferno – on a mission to protect the native peoples deep in the rainforest – you might find that the only thing you’re having your name inscribed upon is a menu, and that you’re likely to become extinct a quicker than the tribe is.
Pack sensibly (Wild, 2014)
When embarking on your epic 1,100mile quest up America’s Pacific Crest Trail, you’re best advised to bring only the essentials. This is the spine-straining lesson learned by Cheryl Strayed (Reeve Witherspoon) in Wild, who then has to suffer the ignominy of having the hardcore trekkers help prune her monster backpack of the unnecessary. This also doubles as an unsubtle metaphor for the massive amount of emotional baggage that Strayed’s also brought along for the ride: let it go, sister.
Pick your pals carefully (A Walk in the Woods, 2015)
Companionship might be important but surviving is even more so though, so you want to make sure that your chosen Forest Friend is more Bear Grylls than bear-kill. In the adaptation of Bill Bryson’s trekking tale A Walk in the Woods, Bryson (Robert Redford) somehow finds himself tackling the trickier bits of the 3,500km Appalachian Trail with Stephen Katz: unfit, unprepared and entirely unsuitable for anything but being fed to wolves.
Be a first aider (Predator, 1987)
People pick up all sorts of nicks in the woods. Branch scratches. Blisters from those unforgiving walking boots. Gunshot wounds from spraying automatic weapons. So, like the Predator, it’s vital that you keep your medical kit on you at all times, so you can dig out those bullets and give yourself a little pick me up to continue your hunting mission. Still, there’s probably nothing in there to help you if an angry Austrian man drops a tree on you.
Use a map (The Blair Witch Project, 1999)
What’s the difference between getting out of the woods and being stuck in the doomed dunce’s corner awaiting imminent slaughter? Well, that will be a map. While our three filmmaking heroes from The Blair Witch Project might have to put up with the shenanigans of their documentary’s subject, Mike kicking away the one thing that could guide them to safety through the spooky Burkittsville woods might as well slap a sign on them saying, ‘Kill me in a spooky murder cabin, please’.
Think green (The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, 2002)
Leave it as you find it, as the saying goes, because if you’re not nice to your environment, your environment will return the favour with style. Saruman learns this the leafy way in The Two Towers, when he starts uprooting the forests, brutally industrializing the area as part of Isengard’s war effort. Unfortunately for him, Treebeard and his enraged Ent tree-pals bring the war straight to Saruman’s frontdoor and send Isengard back to the stone age: stick that in your huge flaming eye, big nose.
Don’t think that four walls means safety (Evil Dead 2, 1987)
That flimsy tent makes you look like a pre-bagged murder victim, doesn’t it? But that secure-looking cabin only provides a fixed focal point for whatever evil is heading your way – usually on a wobbly point-of-view steadicam lurching through the woods towards your screaming face. The Evil Dead’s iconic anti-hero Ash finds this out – many, many times – as he moronically unleashes the terrors of the Necronomicon upon himself, his awesome chin and all his cabin-mates too. Life under canvas suddenly looks a bit more groovy.
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