Saturday, 2 April 2016

The Forest

"The Forest" (2016, Jason Zada, Al-Film, Lava Bear Productions, Focus Features, Gramercy Pictures, Icon Film Distribution) is a supernatural horror set in the infamous Aokigahara Forest, also known as "the suicide forest", in Japan.

Sara (Natalie Dormer with blonde hair) travels to Japan to seek her kind of flaky, missing identical twin sister, Jess (Natalie Dormer with brown hair). Jess was last seen going into the suicide forest and Sara feels certain that her twin is still alive.

She meets a reporter called Aiden (Taylor Kinney) who handily speaks Japanese and helps find her a 'guide' in the form of Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa) who will take them into the forest to look for her sister in the daylight, but not after dark. Sara is also warned several times to stay on the path. Upon finding some hope in the forest shortly before nightfall, Sara refuses to leave and Michi eventually relents, leaving her there with Aiden who decides to keep her company. But the forest is full of sorrowful and angry spirits and Sara's mental state puts her in peril. She also definitely ventures off the path.

A moody, slow film which delivers some effective jump scares but relies a little too often on tropes to maintain any kind of fear factor. The film also suffered from a patchwork feel due to its stylistic flashbacks and dream scenes. I like Natalie Dormer, but her character's descent into madness felt more like a psychotic ex turning on somebody mid-date than a spiral into sorrowful insanity. However, within the forest itself I did appreciate the atmosphere. The final few scenes felt kind of rushed, however, and the film felt overall a little hokey. Japanese horror films have a special kind of scare factor that really make them different. Simply setting a horror movie in Japan, even in somewhere so emotive as Aokigahara Forest, doesn't constitute a scary film.

Although, this girl I liked. She was my favourite thing about the film, really.
[Image: Lava Bear Productions, et al]