'Into the Forest' finds ground in the post-apocalyptic genre

Brad Keefe, Columbus Alive

This year seems like as good a time as any - and better than most - to look at how this whole society thing is going to crumble.

"Into the Forest" takes an intimate look at a prospect for the apocalypse that's easily more plausible than zombies.

In a near-future setting, sisters Nell (Ellen Page) and Eva (Evan Rachel Wood) live in a Pacific Northwest-esque forest setting with their father. One evening, the power blinks out. It doesn't come back on.

With only some brief radio broadcasts attributing the outage to a possible terrorist attack, the family doesn't know what's going on. But as time passes, it's clear that this is going to become a tale of survival in a world without electricity, gasoline or, gasp, mobile phones.

I've long found this idea intriguing: modern life brought down not by aliens, but by the simple removal of amenities we take for granted. Nell and Eva soon find themselves alone in confronting this.

Writer-director Patricia Rozema, adapting a novel by Jean Hegland, makes this a compelling world, focusing not on the mystery of what's happening in the world at large, but how it affects just two sisters.

Page and Wood give it their all in the leads, and both performances are solid. But the story has the sort of episodic flow typical of some book-to-screen adaptations, never finding a needed groove to stay as compelling as its opening act.

Necessary spoiler alert: The film also contains a difficult-to-watch rape scene, but really, all rape scenes should be like that. Just a warning.

"Into the Forest"

Opens Friday

2 stars out of 4