The Forest (2016)

The Forest provides what could have been an interesting premise of Japanese cultural folklore, yet opts out for redundant shock tactics and bland characters.

Sara (Natalie Dormer) tramps out to Japan’s Aokigahara Forest, after hearing from local police that her identical twin sister entered, and has not yet returned. Despite the concerns of those around her and whispers of the haunting yueri, Sara enters the forest determined to find her sister.

Directorial debut for Jason Zada, a bold move to take on real life locale Aokigahara Forest aka The Suicide Forest. This dense shrouded forest lies at the foot of Mount Fuji, but more notoriously known for as a common suicide site, hence the nickname. With depressing statistics surrounding Aokigahara, some might question the exploitative nature of capitalizing in on such a sensitive location.

It’s easy to see why the creative writers would use this backdrop for a horror setting, but that’s exactly what they did… they’ve used it only as a pretty backdrop. If it were to be set in any other forest, the story would still remain the same. A deeper look into the mythos of The Suicide Forest could have created an innovative story, rather it is your standard supernatural American J-Horror.

It is not the worst movie ever though, and it probably doesn’t deserve all the hate. Visually, there is stunning cinematography capturing the immensity of the woods. But when things begin to go bump in the night, so too does the narrative.

There is no slow descent into madness for Sara. As the final act turns into a what’s real and what isn’t, Sara’s paranoia has spiked to a level of craziness. Has she suddenly forgotten the multiple warnings of “the forest makes you see bad things”? Her foolish and not so subtle attitude raises sloppy narrative structure and half realised ideas.

With too many jump gags and an underwhelming final twist, this spooky spirit film with a promise premise is uninspiring.

5.5 / 10

“I don’t know if this forest made you psycho or you were always this crazy” 

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