Thursday, March 31, 2022

Sideworld: Haunted Forests of England

Forests are beautiful, sometimes mysterious places. While most are the sort of places you can go for a long walk to admire nature and clear your head, some hide dark secrets in their sunlight dappled shadows. I covered those sorts of forests on this blog before, when I shared the stories of Epping Forest and the Rendlesham Incident, but those are far from being the only areas of haunted woodland in England. If, like myself, you are fascinated by eerie tales or are looking for a new haunted place to visit, the new documentary Sideworld: Haunted Forests of England is perfect for you.

The Plot

Director George Popov steps in as narrator, acting as our guide as this documentary leads us on an unforgettable journey into the depths of three of the most haunted forests in the UK:          
Wistmans Wood, Devon - looking like something straight out of a fairy tale, this forest is home to both benevolent and malevolent spirits. The most famous of these are the infamous bloodthirsty Wisht Hounds and their master, the Huntsman.    
Cannock Chase, Staffordshire - a beautiful forest hunted by sinister creatures, both natural and supernatural, including an unearthly Pigman that roams the forest, numerous UFO sightings, true crime and the dreaded Black-Eyed Children. 
Epping Forest, Essex - a personal favourite of mine. A place haunted by many, with links to the Krays and Dick Turpin. It's also home to the Drowning Pool, a sinister location with a tragic backstory, that has allegedly claimed the lives of many an unwary walker.

About the Documentary

You'll have to forgive me for not giving away more than I
already have, but I really want anyone who chooses to watch the documentary to be able to do so without any spoilers and hope they will enjoy it as much as I did. Since Sideworld was bought to us by Rubicon Films, I 
had high hopes for it before I'd even cosied up on my sofa and hit play. I've covered one of the studio's films on this blog once before, The Droving, which I very much enjoyed and highly recommend. 
Sideworld is hauntingly beautiful and atmospheric, a true pleasure to watch. 
Filmed on location, the forests are both enchanting and eerie. Thanks to the documentary's stunning cinematography, you really feel like you're there, slipping through the lush, shadowy woods to seek out the ghosts for yourself. It is beautifully filmed. Not only do the forests become as much a character in these stories as the people who feature in them, but by the end of the documentary you'll want to visit them for yourself. The film also features art by Todor Popov and other artists, helping to further illustrate the stories and unseen ghosts.
George Popov is an excellent narrator, bringing the haunting tales to life with the help of Suzie Frances Garton and William Poulter, who step in to read us the eyewitness accounts, doing a brilliant job at bringing them to life. I've never been a fan of dramatic re-enactments, finding them to be a bit cheesy, so I found the way Sideworld presented people's encounters in the forests quite refreshing. These stories are blended with the re-telling of historical events and some of the most chilling folklore I've ever had the pleasure to hear. It manages to be both suspenseful and educational, an exciting program to watch.

All in all, I found this documentary immensely enjoyable. 
Even more exciting, Haunted Forests of England is only the first project to come to us from Sideworld, with more planned in the future. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing what they bring to us next.

Director: George Popov
Producer: Jonathan Russell
Starring: Suzie Frances Garton, William Poulter
Featuring art by Todor Popov
Runtime: 1 hour and 9 minutes
Subtitles: English
Made by: Rubicon Films