Welcome to The Forest Dark

Do you think this is one more of these stories “based on true events”?  You might suspect this.  You and me we know this is most of the times part of the marketing campaign for the movie. Thus, in the end the story is not really true and we can relax. I am afraid my case is more complex. The Forest Dark Feature Film project didn’t start as some sort of another genre movie project “based on a true story”. It was pure fiction. But that changed.

Do you know where ideas come from? We invent them. Sure? What would you say if I would say, sometimes stories are remembered. I hear someone say, of course, something from your childhood. Some people write up their own biographies when they think they are writing fiction.

I have to admit that anything with the subject of The Forest Dark Feature Film Project was not related in any way with my personal experience before I become involved with this.

But did you ever remember anything and didn’t know where that thought came from? Maybe from a former life, a dream?

There are much weirder possibilities, possibilities I never imagined. I learned we live in a world which is super natural. Behind the thin veil of our everyday world exists an otherworld. This otherworld isn’t really separated from our realm. There are strong intelligible forces following us and watching over us. Sometimes these forces are shaping our lives and even our projects.

And when we start to question our experiences during our individual journeys we may find that we indeed live in a “forest dark”.




Lovecraft Forest

by Peter Engelmann,  January 5, 2021

Storytellers and moviemakers exploring the nature of the unexplained, the real horror, the unnamable forces in a haunted forest will find the universe of H.P. Lovecraft as a fruitful and inspiring description of the unknown realm near our dimension. The American Horror and Science Fiction writer introduced the modern idea of cosmic horror. But does it also apply to so-called true stories?

We can cope with the forest demon, the hairy monster, or the sinister backwood person as a sort of invented story, fairy tale, or a true crime story. However, if we listen to witness reports, the rich lore of many regions, and the terrifying accounts of people who disappeared and returned after days, we sense a deeper reality behind these encounters.

It seems that there are entities and other dimensions beyond our comprehension lurking in the shadows. The reports of fairies, mysterious lights, and abductions might be an effort of the mind to keep sane and to carry on because we wouldn’t dare to think about what’s really out there. Some stories and movies do the same but others try to achieve more and take the story to a greater scope. That’s also what the Forest Dark Feature Film Project does. It’s what many writers do. Getting to the point where the audience feels that there is some truth in a story that might sound fantastic.

Is it even possible? The master of modern horror H.P. Lovecraft created a whole universe filled with terrifying encounters with the Great Old Ones and other entities. The words he uses trigger our imagination, the painfully detailed description of unparalleled horrors and the reports of unspeakable events create a special mood.




The Whisperer in Darkness

There is one story in particular which concerns the forest as a place haunted by beings from outer space or another dimension. In The Whisperer In Darkness Lovecraft takes us to the mysteries of the ominous hills in Vermont. The narrator receives letters and pictures from a man, Henry Akeley, who seems close to a nervous breakdown because of some horrors coming from the woods. It doesn’t take too long and the narrator himself is on the brink of madness.

The interesting thing about this story from H.P. Lovecraft is that partly it is written like an article in a scientific journal. The introduction is expanded speculation about the ancient roots of creatures described in modern sightings. There are strong parallels with modern texts about aliens accompanying mankind from the very beginning. It is a lot about scientific speculation and later on it is not only what happens deep in the woods in these Vermont Hills but also about the nature of true tales in Vermont.

The Whisperer In The Dark introduces the Lovecraft Forest. The horror in these woods is not only about some sort of alien race, worshipping of ancient deities like Shub-Niggurath but also weird artifacts as a black stone or strange anomalies. There is mention of a Lord Of The Forest and a transcript of a recording of strange rituals in the forest implies sinister gatherings and invocations:

“(A BUZZING IMITATION OF HUMAN SPEECH)
Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!

We don’t learn who or what Shub-Niggurath and the Black Goat of the Woods exactly are but the story works like a jigsaw puzzle. In the end, we sense the whole picture.

Names, descriptions and the story may sound bizarre. It is a weird tale. However, in many aspects, Lovecraft was ahead of his time. The idea of phenomena and alien entities which somehow defies our laws of nature makes more and more sense if we look into modern theories in physics, quantum mechanics, and astrophysics. A visitor entering our dimension and coming from a higher dimension might match some of Lovecraft’s ideas.

Wait a moment. Of course, there is also a straight sci-fi tale here with the Mi-Go alien race and the twist at the end of the story. But what’s interesting here are the choices between the beats in the storyline. It’s what is happening, how it is happening, and the description.

Furthermore Lovecraft uses a special technique of storytelling which creates tension and allows him to slowly reveal what’s going on. The narrator receives letters by Henry Akeley. Later we are not direct witness of a ritual in the forest but the recording is mentioned. This is not only a writing technique its a very smart way to picture something which is not some sort of singular object but like a combination of phenomena. He gives us bits and pieces and we need to draw further conclusions.

Real mysterious forests

In regions where there are a lot of sightings reported or other supernatural phenomena occur it is often not about a single event. Most of the time it is a complex mix of history, strange events, weird behavior of inhabitants, cases of high strangeness, mysterious disappearances, crime, secret rituals in the forest, and communities with secrets on the surface. In 2018 documentarist and musician Jarrod Tyler visited Washington State and the Snoqualmie region where the legendary Twin Peaks series was shot. He interviewed several people and unraveled the real mysteries of the region in a very good and very impressive road documentary Road To Twin Peaks: A North Bend Story. The real stories he heard and the links to an “energy in the forest” do sound even more strange as some of David Lynch’s inventions. Twin Peaks does now feel even more “real” in a special sense. It has a feel of that Lovecraft forest, a place which is somehow different from our normal dimension. In the end Jarred Tyler raises the question: “Was the North Bend mystery created by the TV show or was the Twin Peaks mystery created by North Bend?”

The same question applies to H.P. Lovecraft’s weird tales as The Whisperer In Darkness: How much inspiration got Lovecraft from these remote hills in New England and did his story influence modern stories, reports of sightings, and Ufo-lore? 

We don’t know. But what we see is a theme that runs like a unifying thread through stories, movies, and folklore. And it is something we find not only in these hills in Vermont:

“The dense, unvisited woods on those inaccessible slopes seemed to harbour alien and incredible things, and I felt that the very outline of the hills themselves held some strange and aeon-forgotten meaning, as if they were vast hieroglyphs left by a rumoured titan race whose glories live only in rare, deep dreams” (H.P. Lovecraft, The Whisperer in Darkness).

This is what the Lovecraft Forest is and if we inspect the haunted forests of this world we might come across these mysteries.

The Forest And The Fabric Of The Universe

Is there something that the forest and the cosmos have in common? What if we could look at the hidden fabric of the organic structure and the connections in the endless cosmos filled with myriads of stars and galaxies? Are there similarities and is there a network that will challenge our idea of reality? Science-fiction series as Star Trek – Discovery even suggest a similarity between the network of fungi in the forest and hidden gateways in the Universe.

An important discovery in biology coined the term “wood wide web”. This refers to the so called Mycorrhizal networks. These are underground connections between plants and trees and allow the exchange of nutrients, water, carbon and even information. Fungi create this underground network which resembles in some way the world wide web.

The mycorrhizal network is a hyphal network. This is a branching filamentous structure. The hyphal network is created by fungi. It looks like a basic structure model or a concept with strong similarities as the branches of trees, the structure inside leaves, the neural web inside the brain or on a large scale the connections between clusters of galaxies in the universe.

However the Star Trek Discovery creators brought this concept to another level. Here it is not only a sort of similarity. What if there is kind of a sub-dimension with such a network which allows teleportation between far distances within the universe? It would have been interesting to see the faces of decision-makers when the series’ writers pitched the idea of the spore drive in the first place. The whole concept is even for the most open-minded sci-fi fans hard to buy.

The idea in Star Trek Discovery is indeed that there is similarly to the “wood wide web” a network of fungal spores throughout the universe called the “mycelium”. What’s so special about them is that they could also permeate “sub space”. A ship which could have some “interface” with this network could travel from space to subspace and back again to space. Ethan Siegel described the concept excellently in a recent Forbes article.




Five Dimensions and Dune as a precursor

Of course, there is strong criticism about this concept, but if you add a fourth spatial dimension it could work as Ethan Siegel emphasised. Actually you have to think of a five-dimensional-reality (including time). It is indeed true that modern spacetime concepts include more than four dimensions. The root-network with the mycelium might indeed sound a bit far-fetched however it is less absurd if we take the idea not too literal.

Most of all this is not a new idea. Instant space travel between far distant points in the universe without a “journey” is a basic concept of Dune. In Dune there is the so-called Holzman-effect, which is also responsible for this kind of space travel. Furthermore there is a connection between biology and technical space travel: In Dune the “Navigators” are enabling this kind of travel. In Star Trek Discovery its the creature (the space tardigrade) in the first place and later the scientist.

The Fifth dimension is also part of Interstellar (even a Fifth Dimension is not mentioned in Dune and Star Trek – Discovery).

Is there a real cosmic root network like the Mycorrhizal networks?

We don’t know. The fourth spatial dimension is a theoretical concept. We can’t enter this higher dimensions so far. We have no clue that any “highways” or “networks” actually exist. However it would explain a lot of phenomena like suddens disappearances. Could people accidentially “fall” into that fourth spatial dimension and get caught in the network? Wild speculation. But what we see is that there is a tendency of self-similarity in the structures of the universe. Tree branches resemble neuronal webs. Neuronal webs resemble clusters of galaxies.

Another important factor is the idea that there could be physical and biological entities which exist not only in our dimension but in that higher fourth spatial dimension. They could travel instantly from one place to another and create any kind of supernatural effect in our dimension. It only needs to have some interface or interdimensional gates. Maybe a creature itself could become an interdimensional gate.

It might be a good model to explain many cases of high-strangeness and anomalies on Earth as orbs, mountain lights, strange experiences of extra dimensions, maybe even visionary experiences.

Does The Twilight Zone mirror reality?

Reality mirrors The Twilight Zone, The Twilight Zone mirrors Reality: Recent articles mention the legendary series from the Sixties and its creator Rod Serling. Under the impression of global lockdowns, everyday life resembles some of the episodes of the twilight zone.

This is because The Twilight Zone is often about slightly altered reality. For example, an astronaut returns to Planet Earth. As he enters his ordinary life he finds things are not normal. There is a white fence where no such thing was before among other disturbing alterations.

However, the Twilight Zone is not about man-made changes or natural disasters. It centers often around an alternative dimension. Even it does not explore scientific insights if or not higher and alternative dimensions are possible, it takes the premise very serious. It is a premise which allows the writer to build stories. Some of these stories are mind-boggling. Some are tragic. Often there is a moral in the end.

It is interesting that it is not so much about true stories and real cases. It is also not about folklore stories. As far as we know Rod Serling was concerned with good storytelling and not so much about what we should belief or should not belief. In this sense, The Twilight Zone is rooted in the realm of science-fiction and not so much into the supernatural thriller area.

The first episode of The Twilight Zone aired 1958. This was the post-WWII period and the time of the Cold War paranoia. Traumata from WWII were pretty much alive. Stephen King described the 50ties paranoia in his book Danse Macabre. There was the shock of the Sputnik. There were fears about the communists. There was the beginning era of the A-Bomb and the threat of a Nuclear War. All in all, it was a climate of uncertainty beneath a clean and happy world on the surface. Thus the original Twilight Zone is related to disruption, contradictory feelings and kind of dissociation. Perhaps its the feeling of dissociation people experience in our days again.

In a The Forest Dark and The Forest Dark Feature Film project the alternate dimensions are the really existing other worlds. It is about the real unknown. Many films and show today rely upon the premise of an existing other-world alongside our own.

Is the premise of today’s multiverse or the other world a different concept as The Twilight Zone?

Not necessarily. There is no proof but it seems that more sci-fi related premises and ideas grounded in the supernatural coming closer together. The mystery genre today does encompass both. However, even more important, some ideas about the other world which belonged to superstition in former days are now appearing in scientific research. If we look into research about quantum physics or the science of black holes this kind of Twilight Zone is more real as in the days of Rod Serling.

There is always a big question if the stories we hear from the witnesses of visionary experiences, sightings or mysterious disappearances are inspired by shows like The Twilight Zone, which has become a milestone of modern culture (even people who have never seen The Twilight Zone are familiar with modern descendants as The X-Files). Did culture form the experience as it did in more religious times when Ufos were interpreted as Holy Mary appearances? Or is it the other way around? Even if Rod Serling and his writers weren’t concerned so much about the existing folklore, Roswell and visionary experiences of Shamans they were somehow rooted in a tradition of storytelling. We don’t know.

The web brings much more stories of strange encounters, cases of high strangeness, Fortean phenomena into the light of the public. We gather more and more data, hear more and more stories, there is a much wider discussion going on the public. We learn more and more about that real existing Twilight Zone along with our own. The Twilight Zone stories which are written by a writer or storyteller and the real world coming closer together in a couple of ways.




In a sense Rod Serling might have seen things in the same way or even envisioned his Twilight Zone in s broader sense as the stories of the TV Show suggest. There is this unforgettable introduction at the beginning of the first season episodes:

“There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The Twilight Zone“.— Rod Serling

Rod Serling was a true visionary. He was somebody who understands that reality is not what it seems. The Twilight Zone is the deeper reality we live in. It is what doesn’t want to be revealed. It’s what’s behind the curtain but which could enter any time our limited everyday world. We live in The Twilight Zone but only be aware of it in certain moments and certain times.

The Phenomenon Is Active

An expression we read sometimes in connection with a series of paranormal events or series of UFO-sightings as the Berkshire Sighting is that “the phenomenon is active”. Jacques Vallée used that expression. It is a very interesting and perhaps very accurate description of what is going on during episodes of UFO-events and other supernatural events like Berkshire Sighting.

There is a distinct concept about “zones” of the paranormal as the Bennington-Triangle, clusters where people go missing, dark forests with regular supernatural sightings, areas with light orbs like Hessdalen in Norway. The zones are–– often connected with the idea of portals or places where alternate dimensions overlap as Mount Shasta in California. It is a world that exists right here and which inspired The Forest Dark Feature Film Project.

The temporal perspective

A temporal concept is less familiar as the concept of places that are somehow disenfranchised from ordinary reality. However, we know about “waves” of sightings. It is however difficult to validate these “special times” when strange cases happen more often. If something happens it might trigger also false claims and the following reports might be inspired by the original sighting.

It is more interesting to look after events that happened during short time spans like a couple of days. This is what happened during the Berkshire Sightings. The beginning of the movie Close Encounters gives us a good impression of that type of episode. Sometimes many things happen in one night. And it’s really weird things – electronic fails, people see bigfoots and signs in the sky. There is all kind of supernatural phenomena.

The phenomenon is active – what does that mean?

The interesting thing is that if we use this expression it doesn’t mean a distinct thing like “visitors are now active”. It sounds a bit more like a mechanism or machinery. If we look at reports of a series of paranormal activity we might think somebody turned on a projector that generates holographic images among other phenomena. We know from the stories for example from the Bridgewater triangle there is often a mix of reported phenomena including orbs, creatures, Ufos, or poltergeists.

Researchers may hope that they could identify some sort of regularity but that is not how the phenomenon works. Places might not change, but most of the temporal events are not repeating itself in a kind of rhythm. However, there seem to be certain years when there is a heightened activity in these “hotbeds of paranormal activity” like the Bridgewater triangle. The first “Ufo-Encounter” happened there in 1760 followed by sightings in 1908, then in 1968 and the 1970s. There is no indication here that there is any kind of rhythm. It is more like time has a special-quality at certain moments.

The temporal perspective in the description of events might not offer explanations but it is a way to get a better understanding of the nature of the phenomenon. We see that there are two brackets here: Supernatural events happen within a certain area and within a certain time frame. The interesting thing is that inside this “bubble” of a changed-reality we have these reports which sound more like a wild mix of imagination: Bigfoot, orbs, winged creature, unnamed black helicopters but also strange visitors in a restaurant as in the Happy Camp events described by Jacques Vallée in his book Confrontations.

In some sense, this makes the stories more credible. It tells us that people experienced something which is beyond their understanding. We can only understand what we see. Perhaps we try to find something we know already, i.e. demons, aliens, or fairies to give it a name. It makes it easier to cope with these types of experiences. Often, the “more reasonable stories” are much more susceptible.

The cultural influence

There is a cultural influence on how we interpret these types of supernatural events. The celestial phenomenon over Nuremberg is a historical precursor of Ufo-sighting-series like in Berkshire. A broadsheet article from 1561 with the illustration and text by Hans Glaser shows balls and geometrical objects invading the skies. Modern enthusiasts interpreted this as an “ aerial battle of Ufos”. Witnesses observed hundreds of spheres, odd-shaped objects, and a black triangular object. As in the Fatima event, people saw the sun falling down. Of course, the event was interpreted as a sign sent from God. The Nuremberg event was followed by another celestial phenomenon over Basel 1566 and a series of events between 27-28 July and 7 August 1566. Again there was a battle in the sky mentioned. Knights were seen fighting in the sky. Historians emphasized that these were unruly times. It wasn’t so long before the apocalyptic Thirty Years War. There was also the plague. The medieval social system did fell apart. Climate change, the so-called Little Ice Age, made people suffer. It was a time of the collapse. In some ways, the phenomenon represented what people must have felt during these unruly times. This is not so to say that the events weren’t real but experiences are shaped by cultural context.

It is sometimes mentioned that these supernatural events work like a sort of control-system guiding mankind from its beginning. It is true that unexplained phenomena can change our belief-system. Whitley Strieber once concluded, “that the human species is being shepherded to a higher level of understanding and existence within an endless multiverse”. These conclusions make sense however it’s not much different as the late-medieval interpretation where the wonders in the sky were acts of God. We assume that the intelligence behind these phenomena (if there is an intelligence) is not so much different as we are. We don’t know that. What we know there is a reality out there, indeed the weirdest stories are real in some sense. There is an “active phenomenon”, however, we can’t see the phenomenon itself as what it is. We have to follow its traces. The phenomenon is there but it is not active at any time.  As forces of nature, it is unpredictable. If we visit zones imbued with the supernatural, the energy of the phenomenon we can’t expect what will happen.  The phenomenon disguises itself behind many masks.