A Gut-wrenching hard to survive through horror movie.
Set in the legendary Aokigahara Forest, a real-life place in Japan where people go to end their lives, The Forest tells the story of a young American woman in search of her twin sister, who has mysteriously disappeared. Despite everyone’s warnings not to “stray from the path,” Sara dares to enter the forest to discover the truth about her sister’s fate, only to be confronted by the angry and tormented souls of the dead who now prey on anyone who crosses their paths.
The movie seems to be conceived as a slow burn, but it’s more like a faucet dripping lukewarm water. With a more compellingly written lead role and/or a more commanding lead performance—in other words, a scream queen worth rooting for—this could have been a creepy character study. It’s disappointing, then, to realize The Forest expends so much energy finding ways for Dormer’s character to conform to horror-lead expectations that she act gullible, oblivious, and even kind of stupid in the face of possible danger. This is a movie that confronts demons, then promptly slumps over.
Really, the most offensive thing about “The Forest” is that it simply isn’t better. Dormer is sympathetic enough in her double scream-queen roles, and Zada shows an occasional aptitude for generating suspense through framing, music and sound design, even if the beats he hits are often tediously familiar. And there is something nifty about the movie’s underlying notion that the Aokigahara can induce in its visitors a kind of psychotic madness, one partly rooted in the very real pain of their unresolved traumas. Sara and Jess, it turns out, have one messed-up family history, which seems fairly apparent from the minute we see an old photo of the girls posing like the Grady sisters. Yet that history is unraveled in more clumsy than crafty fashion, and the story ends with a shrug-inducing whimper; if ever a movie could have used Taylor Swift’s “Out of the Woods” as a closing-credits pick-me-up, it’s this one.
So it should come as no surprise as I give this movie 🌟🌟/10
Till next time.