“Ghost Forest,” an independent film shot in and around the Copalis Beach area and written and directed by former Seabrook artist Arthur Egeli, is coming out on iTunes, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Vimeo and Google Play on Tuesday.
The movie is being touted as a mix of action, adventure, horror and fantasy. It follows two modern-day explorers in the real-life Ghost Forest, which is less than a mile upriver from the bridge crossing the Copalis River on Highway 109, near Copalis Beach. The legendary area was created by an estimated 9.0 earthquake in Japan, which generated a huge tsunami that hit the Pacific Northwest on Jan. 26, 1700.
Shot in 2013 for about $1.2 million, the film stars James Hyde and Christopher Warren as a pair of adventurers looking for centuries-old “sky burial platforms” left behind by local Native American tribes. The first scene takes place in the Green Lantern Tavern, and from there they head up the Copalis River.
Along the way, they encounter a beautiful native guide, played by Elizabeth Frances. But the motives, perhaps even the true identities, of each person may not be what they seem, and mysteries deepen as danger grows along the way to the Ghost Forest.
Egeli explained how the idea for the film came about: “When the recession hit I moved to my ‘investment house’ which (became) my only house, at Seabrook. A local guy who’s a county road supervisor, Randy Buehner took me out kayaking” on the Copalis River. Buehner shared the historical story and some of the mythology attached to the Ghost Forest, and Egeli’s imagination set to work.
Buehner, Seattleites Garry and Heather Montag, and Egeli’s wife, Heather, became the film’s producers. Heather graduated from North Beach High School and studied theater at Grays Harbor College in the late 1990s. Her mother still lives in the area.
Local actor Jason Whited also appeared in the film and many locals, including Aberdeen radio personality Phil Luce and production designer Ryan Martin worked on the film. Hoquiam singer-songwriter Ericka Corban contributed a song.
“I can’t believe it’s finally here,” Egeli said, noting that actual filming was done almost four years ago.
The Egeli family has since moved to a different oceanside community, Cape Cod, Mass. They operate The Egeli Gallery in Provincetown, Mass. While living at Seabrook, he often painted coastal scenes, many with the sun sinking low over the ocean.
Before he left the northwest, Egeli wrote another screenplay and filmed a trailer in Pacific Beach, which he successfully used to find backing for the project. The Egelis’ coast-to-coast move meant the film ended up being made as “Murder on Cape Cod.” It will debut this fall at the Boston Film Festival. The final cut of the film contains two songs by local performer Erika Corban. The original Pacific Beach trailer can be found on YouTube under the title, “Denton Harbor,” Egeli said.
“Ghost Forest” is listed on the movie web site, imdb.com. The listing at iTunes includes a lengthy plot synopsis full of spoilers. A Facebook page, facebook.com/ghostforestfilm, includes trailers, behind the scenes images and links to most of the digital on-demand platforms where the film can be rented or purchased beginning Feb. 28.