Hundreds of campers go missing at National Parks each year, many leaving nothing but their memory behind for the people who loved and cared for them. However, when one back-country park ranger learns the truths hidden within the dense, secluded forest, it’s up to her to fight against everything that is Lovely, Dark and Deep.
This film is the directorial debut of Teresa Sutherland (The Wind, 2018), who is also the writer behind the project. During a Q&A at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TADFF), Sutherland told the audience that she wrote the project in 2019 and knew “exactly what this was going to look like”. She stressed that it was very important to her to be able to bring the film to life on the big screen and made a point of making this film her first in the director’s chair.
Sutherland also shared that the title of the film comes from a line in the Robert Frost poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. She spent a fair amount of time processing what message the forest was conveying to viewers, and wanted the title of her film to reflect just that. After having no such luck brainstorming on her own, Sutherland turned to a quick Google search, which presented her with the perfect name.
Lovely, Dark and Deep stars Georgina Campbell, who frightened audiences late last year through her role in Barbarian (2022). This film also features Nick Blood, Wai Ching Ho and Soren Hellerup.
Sutherland told the TADFF audience that this movie was filmed in about 15-20 locations within Portugal, over the course of a mere three weeks. She stated, “I will never do that again”, as it was challenging travelling hours back and forth between shooting locations under such a small time constraint.
Lovely, Dark and Deep first premiered at the Fantasia International Film Festival in July 2023, and was later presented at the TADFF in October. The film currently has an 86 percent critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
This film follows the life of new back-country ranger, Lennon, who begins the summer at her posting in Arvores National Park. She arrives at her cabin, with nothing more than the proper amount of food and supplies to get her through the three-month period, and a curious mind. As the days blur into the nights, Lennon soon discovers that the forest punishes those for taking what was not theirs to find. Now, it’s up to Lennon to confront her past and face the present in order to survive.
Lovely, Dark and Deep was nothing less than horrifying, beautiful and brilliant. The film presents the audience with the scariest demon of all; one that is invisible and presents itself within the thick of the night. Many of the scariest scenes happen when no one is around at all. The fright stems from what is unknown and how Lennon will survive the dark hole that she is stranded within. The setting of the film is simple, yet familiar to many viewers, turning a serene campground into a bed of terror.
The director’s pure passion for the project only adds to the delight of watching this film. Listening to how dedicated she was in bringing her project to life in the exact way she envisioned proves how successful she was at her job. Lovely, Dark and Deep leaves viewers with a feeling of unease, not out of discontent with the film itself, but from the pure spook that the film leaves with them.
Georgina Campbell does an outstanding job of portraying the lead role in this film. She perfectly captivates the emotions of what you think one would feel in her situation. Lennon is brave to her core, as most park rangers must be in order to survive months at a time in the woods. Yet, she possesses a hint of timidness when the film pushes her character to her limits.
The music within this film pairs nicely with the tone that it is trying to convey. The soundtrack is tense and gloomy, creating an ideal backdrop for the thick, tenebrous forest. The composer for this film was Shida Shahabi, who is known for her work on The Silhouettes (2020) and Falcon Lake (2022).
Overall, this is an eerie creation that is filled with its fair share of fright and supernatural thrill. If you’re an avid camper, or enjoy nature-filled adventures, I’d suggest viewing this film well after your next trip.
Keep an eye out for an official public release date for Lovely, Dark and Deep.