Review: The Forest1st March 2016
Inspired by real stories, which had been the premise for Gus van Sant’s The Sea of Trees, The Forest starts as a promising horror movie.
The movie gravitates around Aokigahara forest, known as the Suicide Forest that lies at Mount Fuji, Japan, and the path Sara Price (Natalie Dormer) follows to reconnect with her missing twin, Jess Price (also Natalie Dormer).
Jess has always been the rebel of the family, so no one contests her decision of going to teach in Japan. However, when she is missing and police says she went inside Aokigahara forest, Rob (Eoin Macken), Sara`s fiance, says that the haunted forest seems like the perfect playground Jess would pick.
Sharing a special psychic connection with her twin, Sara senses Jess is in danger and still alive – despite what everyone is telling her: those who go inside the forest want to die and nobody had survived five days inside it.
Once she gets to Japan and checks in the hotel, Sara befriends a reporter, Aiden, (Taylor Kinney), who promises to help her (finding a guide and accompanying her) in exchange for information for a new story.
Inside the forest are coloured ribbons left behind by those who lost their desire to live, hoping that one day someone will follow the trail and find their bodies, as guide Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa) explains to her.
As the movie unfolds, it seems that the first 60 minutes of it is an intro for the last 15 minutes – where all the action happens. It seems 80 per cent of the movie is a prelude for the night Sara is spending in the forest, despite the advice given by the guide who warns her about the sadness in her heart and the restless spirits which are attracted to it.
Michi had warned her and Aiden before entering the forest that some people see things that are not normal and if they see them they should keep in mind they are not real. That’s what Sara keeps telling herself while spending the night inside the forest and hearing/feeling strange things. Slowly, thinking she is hearing Jess’s voice, Sara is turning against Aiden who is doing his best to help her survive the forest.
Natalie Dormer gives a good performance as not once is she falling into an over-dramatic scream or theatrical movement, however, the script doesn’t measure with her acting, leaving the audience puzzled. The Forest fails as a good horror movie as is just a succession of few jump scares which releases the dramatic tension instead of adding to it. Also the throw back shots are confusing and often not belonging and with them director Jason Zada succeed to create an incoherent scenario.
Japan is a country with rich culture, but the lack of depth of the scenario makes Aokigahara looks like any other creepy forest that might as well be fictional. A lot of stereotypical Japanese things are shown such as living sushi and students who scream at the thought of a ghost.
In conclusion, The Forest start as a promising horror with Natalie Dormer luring Games of Thrones fans, but fails the audience with a muddled structure of the story and lack of depth.
You can see The Forest from February 26 at Empire Sunderland and Newcastle and in Cineworld Boldon.