Otherworldly Traps

“ROSLIN
Things. The forest is showing me…
Things…”(The Forest Dark Screenplay)

People getting lost or people losing their wits after they entered a dark place in the forest. Are there supernatural traps hidden in certain places in this world?

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In fairy tales the trap is a very prominently motive. Writers were fascinated by these folclore stories. There are famous works particularly in the period of romanticism. An example which was described earlier is the “Runenberg“.

Another well-known trap is the court of venus, “Venusberg”. These traps lure the wanderer into another realm. The man who can’t resist will finally lose everything.

These kind of “erotic traps” use temptation. Of course, this is something which works very well in a number of stories.

However it’s indeed primary a literal motive not a very realistic one.

We don’t expect a beautiful fairy queen tempting us to walk straight into a rift in time and space when we enter the woods.

Otherworldly traps are perhaps something which works in a more subtle way. Nevertheless these kind of traps could be very powerful and dangerous.

It seems that there are places in this world were people lose their orientation or get depressed. The perfect description of this kind of otherworldly trap could be found in Algernoon Blackwood’s “The Willows” where two wanderers get maddened by a supernatural force and one of them is close to committing suicide.

“The Willows” is also a fictional supernatural tale but what happens could be closer to what’s really going on. Every year a number of hikers vanish mysteriously. In most cases there are very rational explanations for what has happened with these persons, but some cases remain unsolved. There are areas which have a reputation for this like “The Bennington Triangle”. According to the Indians the woods are cursed in this territory in Vermont.

I think there are two ways to make you losing your wits. If there are forces which could look deeply into the soul of a person these forces will find the weak spot. They will hit you on the most personal level. The other way is showing you disturbing things, things which are somehow not right, something like H.P. Lovecraft’s “Color From Outer Space”.

These kind of phenomena exist. There were described for example in “Dangerous Lights”. Obviously, they act more on a psychological level. They are happen in a realm somewhere in-between the physical world and the inner-life of a person.





Getting into the mind of a person is the most efficient way how a trap could work. The purpose of the trap it to break somebody’s will. Without a strong will we are an easy prey for whatever lurks in the forest. As soon as we are depressed and disoriented we’re lost. Sometimes the victim returns but is changed forever.

Peter Weir’s famous movie “Picnic at Hanging Rock” describes the mysterious disappearance of a group of girls in the Australian outback. One of the victims returns but cannot describe what happened. The girl is changed and cannot remember anything.

The movie is based on a novel which is fiction but played around with the “based on a true story” pattern. The ending was left open for interpretation but the otherworldy quality of the “Hanging rock”, which exists, is a dominant motive. There are hints that it is the special quality or power of place itself which is responsible for the events.

This story is a very good example for a supernatural trap. It’s like a paradigm. We find similar stories surrounding other notorious place like Freetown-Fall River State Forest. In this case the forest itself seems to be the trap, like the famous woods in the Blairwitch-Movies.

Games In The Forest

Forest Horror Stories are in some way often close to the reality in a computer game or a simulation. This is because there seems not only the character’s misjudgment of the situation is leading him into dangerous territory. In the dark forest we are like Katniss Everdeen confronted with the interventions from an invisible game maker. It’s like being chosen for the hunger games without knowing it.

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Sometimes it´s surprising we accept the conceptual approach in forest horror because of course we know the story was written by an author and certain events in the forest are created by the director and his crew. This is always a problem in storytelling and drama and for badly introduced interventions which change the course of action there is even a term from the old Greeks. It’s called “deux ex machina”. Particularly if we see a so-called found coverage film it could easily look like some trick.

Of course good acting and the right use of effects and emotion could put the audience in a state where the audience doesn’t think too much about the construction of the story. However there is more about it. As said in the previous post it seems that on some level close to base reality the other world appears like a simulation (whereas it is questionable to interpret reality generally as simulation) or even a game where we have interventions of the “game maker”.

Perhaps we accept these stories because sometimes they feel true. Even in reality life is not “character-driven”. There are interventions from invisible forces from somewhere. Therefore the best writers are able to write something which rings true which make use of “cosmic interventions”. There are real cases which look like a weird constructed plot with supernatural interventions. This is an impression particularly if it comes to stories and reports of real events in the forest. Naturally its difficult to distinct between reality and “scripted reality” – every witness report gets interpreted, fictionalized or becoming a folk tale with some sort of morale in the end.

If we look at the real accounts of “forest horror” as described in “Dangerous lights” with cases in Brazil, Jacques Vallee’s investigation of the Happy Camp events in California, The Freetown Fall River Forest case or the Hoia Bacu Forest we find the same dramaturgy at the bottom of the story as in many forest horror stories. It looks like some “Elder Gods” orchestrating supernatural events which are overwhelming for the human mind. The events often go far beyond the “local old legend” encompassing some ghost roaming the woods.

A typical difference between “real accounts” from haunted woods and fictional horror is the forest as a physical attacker. What’s happening in the forest in most real stories is not so much a physical attack from the woods itself its more as something which happens somewhere in-between reality and imagination, somewhere between dream and real experience. Forest horror feels true if we understand Lovecraft’s idea of cosmic horror: “A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present” It all happens more on an atmospheric level rather than a pure physical level in the first place, only later it could lead to physical consequences.





These forces tend to play tricks with the mind. Indeed some events and sightings sound like a part of a game or like everything is happen in a form of virtual reality. However we don’t know the mechanism of the game or the intentions of the game maker. Thus we try rituals and study magic, often we need to solve a riddle in the forest and getting lost. We don’t understand any longer what’s going on. Perhaps this is the true nature of the game: It’s all about not losing your mind in the first place. Then we might be able to understand the nature of our own role in this game and overcome its limitations. Perhaps this is the trick both in a forest horror story or in real life: don’t do what the game maker wants you to do and overcome your limitations.