When I was younger, one of my favorite things to do was get "lost" in the woods behind my house with my friends. I made it a point to let them know that I had "no idea where we were", and then jump out at them a few times. Upon scaring them successfully, we would head back to my house.
There was, though, one time that I really did get lost. This time, I had a Ouija board tucked under my arm, and we'd been playing on a grassy hill. We had the distinct feeling that we were being watched, and we heard twigs cracking behind us. That was my last time venturing into those woods.
Even scarier than those woods are these five forests around the world, known for their brutal history and horrifying hauntings...and more terrifying than that: The Hallow.
5) Epping Forest, England
A forest dating back to 8,000 BC, Epping is full of character, history, and has made a name for itself as one of the most haunted forests in the world. Apparitions have been spotted roaming through the woods, and legend has it that if you put your car in neutral on its famous Hangman's Hill, your car will roll upwards, not backwards down the hill, like someone is pushing it for you.
4) Old House Woods, Virginia
Another forest infused with history, Old House Woods was home (no pun intended) to an important port pre-Revolutionary War, during the war, and again during the Civil War. Are you surprised that it's said to be filled to the brim with ghostly apparitions? Reports of skeletons with swords, ghosts ships and headless dogs are all too common for visitors brave enough to venture into the woods.
3) Freetown State Forest, Massachusetts
To paranormal investigators, Freetown State Forest is nicknamed the "Bridgewater Triangle", because the layout of the surrounding towns create a triangle shape. Within this triangle, the forest has been subject to satanic rituals, countless murders, and it is home to several burial grounds and a potential curse. It is, therefore, unsurprising to find that there have been sightings of UFOs, apparitions, and animal mutilations.
2) Aokigahara Forest, Japan
Commonly known as the 'Suicide Forest' (which has inspired two upcoming films: The Forest and Sea of Trees) for its history (about 30 people per year commit suicide in the forest), Aokigahara is the final resting place of over 500 people since the 1950s. Historically, the forest was where people brought the ill to starve to death amongst the trees. It is considered "a purgatory for 'yurei', the unsettled ghosts of Japan" as stated by japanzine.com.
1) Hoia-Baciu Forest, Romania
Appropriately titled the Most Haunted Forest in the World, Hoia-Baciu has some of the strangest paranormal experiences surrounding it. The bizarre occurrences date back to 1968, when a UFO was spotted by biologist Alexandru Sift. Since then, a 5-year-old girl went missing in the forest and emerged 5 years later with no recollection of what happened, people report feelings of being watched, and voices and giggling can be heard even when investigators are there alone.
The Hallow (2015)
Originally titled The Woods, The Hallow tells the story of the Adam and Claire Hitchens, portrayed by Joseph Mawle (Game of Thrones) and Bojana Novakovic (Devil), and their infant son Finn, as they move into a new house in rural Ireland.
Adam is a conservationist studying the surrounding woods...against the advice of the locals. Their neighbors warn Adam not to trespass on the territory of the "fairies" living in the woods, as folklore says that once he does, they will come to steal his baby. Of course, Adam doesn't listen, and the pure insanity begins.
Some of the most terrifying creatures live within these woods, making this film a welcomed treat for horror fans that desire a more "creature feature" feel (think The Descent).
To round out the film, director and writer Corin Hardy also includes some body horror, so the film pleases all viewers, no matter what type of horror you prefer!
Between the five real forests and The Hallow's menacing monsters, I know I won't be venturing into the woods any time soon!