The Forest review
I always saw a hint of magic within the country of Japan. If the more disciplined attitude yet more relaxed philosophies weren’t enough, then the legends of spirits and gods should help with that. I’ve yet to travel to the land of the rising sun, but my mother has gone for business twice. She’s talked about Tokyo being a fun city to visit, but she had no time to travel outside the metropolis. From what she’s said and what I’ve seen in pictures, the countryside of Japan is the most beautiful. This is my same reaction to the country of France.
Getting back to the spirits of Japan, it’s no surprise that the Japanese are a superstitious bunch, taking in their actions carefully so that they don’t upset the balance of life. It’s clear that there are kind and evil spirits, which can influence several ideas. One such place is the Aokigahara forest that rests below Mount Fuji. It’s a beautiful forest that’s dense and ranges from having large trees to rocky ice caverns. The place happens to be a large site for suicides due to the spirits that haunt the place. The Forest sets a horror story within the suicidal woods.
Sara Price (played by Natalie Dormer) receives a call from the Japanese police that her twin sister Jess (also Natalie Dormer) has gone into the Aokigahara forest to commit suicide. Through her twin…sense, Sara feels that her sister is not dead, but simply missing. She flies into Tokyo and after visiting the school that Jess taught at, takes a train the forest where she stays at a hotel. It’s here where she encounters a writer for an Australian travel magazine, Aiden (played by Taylor Kinney), who is one of several people to tell her not to go into the deep woods, feeling that the sister is already dead.
Sara remains confident about her twin, and insists that she go, regardless of the legends of demons that haunt the place. She, Aiden and a park ranger all trek into the forest, reminding Sara about the spirits the roam, especially after sundown. While they manage to find a tent, Jess remains missing. Sara is still sure that her sister will return, so she decides to stay in the woods until her sister is found. Aiden stays with her, wanting to make sure that nothing bad happens to her. The longer the two remain in the forest, the more their mind starts to play tricks.
I’ll give this story credit that it has a good set up for a psychological thriller. They show that effort was put in with the background they’ve set up for our main girl and her sister. The Forest unfortunately suffers from a story that’s more interested in it’s set up rather then in the actual search. It’s a scary idea to walk into a haunted forest, but the scares are too far in between and never establish whether the majority of them are of the mind or are real.
Natalie Dormer is clearly trying her hardest with the task of playing twins. With what she gives, it’s okay, but with the way the direction is set, I doubt another actress could have brought more.
I think what bothered me was the overall investment. I know someone’s life is at risk, but The Forest makes the mistake of being too unclear on what’s exactly in there. Were never told whether it’s ghosts, demon, or even if what the people were frightened of was real. The Shining was vague as well, but they at least gave us an idea of what was out there and that Jack Nicholson was not there mentally. Sara lacks a strong identity and therefore, I couldn’t get that invested if the movie barley is already.
I’ll give this two Mount Fuji postcards out of five. While The Forest isn’t as bad as some of the other January horror movies I’ve seen, as some scares worked and the cinematography makes Japan beautiful and scary, but it’s an auto pilot horror movie that’s only psychological when it feels like it. This is not worth the hike.