Saturday, 5 November 2016

The Forest Review

Aokigahara, Japan's famous 'suicide forest', has had it's share of attention from the film industry over the past few years. From the name wise duplicate, The Forest (2010), (or The Forest of the Living Dead as it was known in America), to The Sea of Trees (2015), American filmmakers have discovered a gem in this setting and Jason Zada, the man at the helm of The Forest, is one of them.

Zada's The Forest sees Sara (Natalie Dormer) travel to Japan in order to locate her missing twin sister, Jess (also played by Dormer), who was last sighted entering Aokigahara. Once she arrives she meets Aiden (Taylor Kinney), a reporter who offers to take her into the forest along with his guide in return for her permission to allow him to document her story.


The film starts off at a decent pace, with Sara telling everyone that she meets that she's a twin and can therefore sense that her sister is still alive and Jess being established as a somewhat troubled character. Then, before long, Sara, Aiden, and their guide are making their way into the suicide forest. If anything, this film must be paid its dues for attempting to stray away from relying too much on jump scares to unnerve the audience, and it's certainly a refreshing change from screaming teenagers being attacked my masked madmen. This being said, The Forest is practically a scare free film as it fails to provide enough atmosphere to be an effective horror film, and instead simply provides mysterious figures in the background of shots and what is arguably the most typical J-Horror trope: a Japanese schoolgirl.

It's evident that Natalie Dormer came here to act and tackles the dual role considerably well and, instead of going all out, she manages to create a perfect balance between sane and insane as Sara is dragged deeper into the mysteries of the forest. However, the same cannot be said for Kinney, who's performance is as bland as the title of the film and is almost unwatchable.

Right off the bat, The Forest has an air of being a film that was born out of Zada watching a documentary on Aokigahara and thinking "yep, this'll work perfectly for a horror film", before throwing together a script that was full of typical horror personifications. It turns out that this isn't too far from the truth, as producer David S. Goyer apparently read a wikipedia article on the suicide forest and was then inspired to write the film's script. Overall, The Forest deserves one star for trying to do something different, but it falls at every hurdle and doesn't warrant any recommendations.

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1 comment

  1. I thought this film was a worth a watch once, like you've said it wasn't really horror filled at all so I would of liked a few jumpy moments and scare tactics. I like Natalie Dormer as an actor though but her performances in Hunger Games/GoT are much better in my opinion.

    Great review to read though and I'd still give it a watch after reading your review for the attempt at filming something different.

    Gem | gemsupnorth.co.uk x

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