Written & Directed by Tofiq Rzayev
Starring Deniz Aslim, Cevahir Casgir & Gizem Aybike Sahin
Review by Chris Olson
A suspenseful mystery from filmmaker Tofiq Rzayev, about a young man who goes missing, sending only one harrowing text message to his friend Mert (Deniz Aslim) that says “find me”.
Whilst brushing his teeth, Mert receives the aforementioned spooky text message from his buddy Ali, who has not been seen for a while. His fiancée Ceren (Gizem Aybike Sahin) is distraught with worry, thinking that Ali’s absence has something to do with their upcoming nuptials. After a little digging, Mert learns of Ali’s last known whereabouts - in the woods.
Thinking that this is the best place to start his search, Mert travels to the woods where Ali was last seen, but instead of finding his friend he meets a peculiar girl (Cevahir Casgir), whose peaks Mert’s interest. Deciding to return to the woods for subsequent meetings, still in search for Ali, the girl becomes increasingly strange and worryingly perturbing.
There is a bittersweet mix of macabre drama and intrigue in Rzayev’s short film that takes the viewer’s hand and does not let go. The build up is tentative and subtle, capturing the attempts at calmness by Ali’s loved ones who are hoping for the best, and once the catalyst of Casgir is thrown in the movie becomes incrementally more gripping. The final few scenes are beautifully shot, with a breathtaking aesthetic that does justice to the performers - who all turn in worthy portrayal.
Special mention must be given to Deniz Aslim, whose central performance is excellent, leading the audience into both adventure and peril without ever losing touch with the emotion of the scenes.
Whilst the plot is pretty simple and the use of locations limited, the film benefits from simplicity, allowing the heavy drama to unfold without being obscured by distraction. There is a purity to the movie that is in the atmosphere rather than the story, slowly raising the viewer’s pulse to a crescendo of violence and brutality, rather than delivering a rollercoaster effect, which is complimented perfectly by the original score of Gergo Elekes.
The Girl in the Woods is an immersive short film, affecting in its tone and bordering on captivating in its climax. Rzayev seems to be able to slowly pull his viewers into a state of unawareness, which makes his filmmaking all the more powerful and devastating.