Mushrooms (2023), Written and directed by Paweł Borowski

Mushrooms, originally known as Grzyby, is a Polish 2023 mystery thriller, written and directed by Paweł Borowski. Beginning his directorial career with the short animated comedy Love Gamestation (2001), Paweł continued to write and direct the short film Kocham cie (2003), as well as the feature-length titles Zero (2009), and I Am Lying Now (2019).

While foraging for mushrooms and berries in the forest, an old lady stumbles upon a young couple who have gotten lost. They beg her to help them escape the woods, but the old lady quickly senses that something isn’t right with the couple…


Whilst discussing Mushrooms’ plot in detail would taint the entire experience, it is safe to say that this enigmatic narrative full of sly twists and turns keeps the audience oblivious of its intentions until the end of the third with a climax that is as poignant as it is powerful. Furthermore, a level of ambiguity is instilled into what period the film is set, with characters not mentioning modern technology, set entirely in an ancient forest, and characters wearing traditional clothing from an era long gone (although this is explained away to some extent). It is nearly impossible to pinpoint an exact time as to when the events occurred—further adding to the mysterious atmosphere.

An incredibly competent display of cinematography, Mushrooms fluently bestows a stunning visual design. Taking place solely in an enchantingly beautiful, ancient forest, the stunning scenery alludes to a fairytale-esc environment—brimming with highly saturated colours and golden sunlight breaching through the tree canopy. Additionally, The sweeping, low-angle pans undoubtedly aid in exacerbating the size of this mythical forest tenfold, causing this already large forest to transform into an inescapable maze of flora.


However, despite this visual beauty, the film provides a highly sinister undertone flawlessly connotated by an impeccable score. Indeed, the soundtrack of Mushrooms performs a staggering amount of heavy lifting regarding the film’s atmosphere. Seemingly benign scenes are accompanied by a foreboding sense of dread, yet it is unclear as to the true origins of this apprehension.

Alluring yet Mysterious, Mushrooms (2023) is an impeccably engrossing tale full of subtle convolution. With stunning performances from the minuscule cast, impressive visual and sound design, and a disturbingly unexpected twist, I was physically left mouth agape long into the rolling credits at its staggering intensity. While the film’s beginning can be unhurried at points, its kinetic conclusion more than makes up for its sluggish start.


We watched Mushrooms (2023) at Fantastic Fest 2023

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