The Forest

"OK"

The Forest Review


Right from the start, filmmaker Jason Zada begins filling scenes in this horror movie with insinuating elements involving eerie noises, deep shadows and sudden jolts. And it succeeds in freaking the audience out entertainingly. Then Zada seems to get tired of sustaining the psychological terror, letting the final act become swamped by a flood of gimmicky cliches.

The story centres on Sara (Natalie Dormer), a young woman suffering from unnerving nightmares about her identical twin Jess (also Dormer), who was last seen entering Japan's notorious Aokigahara Forest, the "sea of trees" where people traditionally go to commit suicide. So Sara leaves her husband (Eoin Macken) at home in America and heads to the foot of Mt Fuji to get some answers, ignoring warnings about angry spirits and impending doom. There she meets friendly journalist Aidan (Taylor Kinney), who wants to tag along and write a story about her. But once they enter the forest, their phones and compasses stop working, then even creepier things start happening in the gloomy darkness.

The director gleefully piles on suggestive imagery, hinting at all kinds of things that might be going on here. Sara and Jess are like opposite sides of a coin: blonde and sensible versus brunette and free-spirited. And they have a tragic back-story that reveals itself in a series of dreamy flashbacks. Cleverly, their childhood snapshots make them resemble the sinister twins from The Shining. So Sara's continuous premonitions add layers of uncertainty, especially as she indulges in illicit flirtation with the handsome Aidan. Dormer is solid in the central role, nicely balancing Sara's scepticism with a haunting sense of dread. And Kinney is terrific as the helpful stranger who seems too nice to be trusted. Meanwhile, the forest itself makes the entire film feel like a fairy tale that's threatening to turn seriously nasty at any moment.

As the film progresses, there are some terrific character-based twists that deepen the mystery and build a sense of fearful expectation. So it's frustrating that the plot itself merely seems to get increasingly muddled. Zada delights in tormenting the audience with scenes that may or may not be real, but by stubbornly refusing to bring the events into focus, he leaves us waiting too long for something concrete to hang on to. Many of the cheap scares are effective, as is the overriding theme that there are things in the world that are unknowable. But by the time the answers finally begin to appear, they feel so trite and corny that it's impossible to care.

Rich Cline



The Forest

Facts and Figures

Genre: Horror/Suspense

Run time: 93 mins

In Theaters: Friday 8th January 2016

Box Office USA: $26.3M

Distributed by: Gramercy Pictures

Production compaines: Lava Bear Films, AI-Film

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 11%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 75

IMDB: 5.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Jason Zada

Producer: Tory Metzger, ,

Starring: as Sara, as Aiden, Yukiyoshi Ozawa as Michi, as Rob, Rina Takasaki as Hoshiko, Kikuo Ichikawa as Businessman, Noriko Sakura as Mayumi, Yûho Yamashita as Sakura, as Valerie, James Owen as Peter, Nadja Mazalica as Young Jess, Terry Diab as Grandmother, Akiko Iwase as Head Teacher, Masashi Fujimoto as Yurei, Meg Kubota as Ubasute Yurei, Tatsujiro Oto as Yurei, Gen Seto as Narusawa Bartender, Shintaro Taketani as Yurei

Also starring: ,

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