“They will not stop until they find a victim” (Duncan, The Forest Dark Screenplay).

It doesn’t matter if we follow “a light” in the forest, or if we search for something – forest horror stories work the same way most of the time: there is danger out there and it depends on the character’s strength to not become a sacrifice.


The motive of a sacrifice could be found at the core of many stories like in Algernon Blackwood’s “The Willows”.

One of the first stories of a sacrifice in the woods is mentioned in Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer’s comparative study of mythology and religion, “The Golden Bough”. The book centers around the thesis that the old religions were fertility cults that revolved around the periodic sacrifice of a sacred king (see Wikipedia).

Somehow we all remember the stories of the elder gods and we know about the idea of a sacrifice. Forest stories work because we know about the inevitable, we know what will happen and hope that there is nevertheless some way out of the forest.

There is another crucial element in the old myth: a sacrifice is necessary for nature to come back to life (that’s the important element in fertility rites in spring). It could be also mean something or somebody has to be sacrificed for the other’s to survive.

Therefore the danger in our forest story does not necessarily come from the forest itself or what resides in the forest but from our companions or even our best friends. Old mythologies are still alive in our heads, therefore we should be careful whom we chose to come with us on our journey into the forest.

What does it take to think a sacrifice could please the angry gods and how long does it take until we are ready to kill our best friend?

Sometimes its not the forest which is dark. The forest shows us our own inner darkness at the bottom of our souls on our trip into the woods.

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