The Forest – 1 out of 5
So, it seems there is a forest in Japan where a ton of people go to kill themselves. I literally never heard of Aokigahara Forest until the first trailers for this film came out. Well, this idea of a forest that seems like it has a siren call to people and gets them to remove themselves from this mortal coil sounds pretty interesting (albeit scary and tragic) but does The Forest live up to the potential that naturally arises from this real world locale? Well, as you can see from the score, I didn’t think so…
|Try to keep your spine from shattering with terror as you watch a woman|
take a taxi ride from the airport to her hotel!!!!
One night, Sara Price (Natalie Dormer) gets a call from some police in Japan and they tell her that her twin sister (who, in a display of perfect casting, is played by Natalie Dormer) went missing in the infamous Aokigahara Forest and is feared dead. Sara realizes that her sister Jess suffers from a torturous past that stems from some family horror in their youth but she refuses to believe that she is gone. Desperate, she flies to Japan and enlists the help of a shady journalist (Taylor Kinney) and a park guide (Yukiyoshi Ozawa), who spends his time walking the forest looking for bodies, and immediately enters the haunted woods to find her sibling. Against all better judgment, an obsessed Sara decides she won’t leave the forest until she finds her, not even when the sun goes down. As night fills the sky, Sara soon learns why this place has claimed so many victims…
|The true horror is all the ticks that await you...|
Like I previously stated, the tragedy that surrounds the Aokigahara Forest is pretty interesting and horrifying. So, naturally, it seems like this reality could easily be tweaked to make a horror film (which, I discovered after watching this, there have been other films that have used this locale or been inspired for it). However, The Forest pretty much fails at nearly every attempt at being a scary feature.
|Congratulations, The Forest, you successfully made the most scary thing in the |
world (children) not be scary.
Occasionally, the film offers up a fleeting moment or two of genuine creepiness but the rest of the film lacks an atmosphere that is required to create chills and shivers. Then, when the production seems like it is actively working against having a tone that is ripe to make the viewer afraid, the actual spooking moments are pretty bland and the attempts at jump scares are kinda sad. Matters are made even worse when the story doesn’t fully embrace the “Is this really happening?” question that it projected at the beginning of entering the forest and the fact it ends on an insanely cliché horror feature ending makes the entire ordeal feel empty and pointless.
|This part made me make a noise from my wide open mouth.|
I was yawning, in case you were wondering what the noise was.
So, even though this ends up being like so many other horror films I watch (read that as not being scary—I’m starting to think I’m just super hard to scare or have become way too jaded to this genre), I was hoping for a great performance from Natalie Dormer. I think she’s a great actress and find her to be absolutely incredible on Game of Thrones but this feature really didn’t feel like it was letting her do much. Her performance isn’t terrible but Dormer's talent has been proven in the past and this one feels like there just wasn’t enough to the script and her character for her really to latch onto and run with.
|The forest is so lush, green and beautiful that I wanna die--oops, sorry.|
That was probably not the most proper way to compliment this forest.
The Forest had some potential but the final product just feels like a by-the-numbers horror cliché that almost feels afraid to do anything unique, deep or even interesting. Sure, there was a moment or two that I found myself saying, “Whoa, that was a little bit creepy,” but for the most part all I felt was overwhelming boredom from the dragging story and lazy scares. Maybe I'm being too hard on this film but I was very unimpressed with it.