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The Forest
BLU-RAY disk
05.17.2016 By: Lauren Bradshaw
The Forest order download
Director:
Jason Zada

Actors:
Natalie Dormer
Taylor Kinney

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
When Sara's (Natalie Dormer) twin sister Jess goes missing in Japan's mysterious "suicide forest", Sara will stop at nothing to find her... even if it means risking her own life.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
THE FOREST, directed by newcomer Jason Zada, seems like a great place to stage a psychological horror film. A real-life, creepy forest in Japan that is notorious as a place for people to commit suicide? And not only that, one of my favorite actresses, Natalie Dormer, is finally getting a lead role in a film? Sign me up... well, sign me up to watch a horror movie set there, not go there myself. But unfortunately, the film doesn't take advantage of its awesome premise or lead actress, and instead languishes as your typical, below average January release.

What could be an interesting exploration into the deeper, psychological elements of the "suicide forest" and its ghostly inhabitants ends up focusing on jump scares and disappointing CGI. A movie like this would have been better served using more suggestion than exposition. It seemed the director (or maybe the studio) didn't trust audiences to put pieces of the puzzle together themselves, and instead spelled everything out for us - an annoying, but common issue with below-average thrillers and horror films. There are a few moments of achievement that stick out, such as the tent scene (reminiscent of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT) or the awesome imagery that showed Sara falling into a giant pit. But these moments are unfortunately few and far between. And don't get me started on the last shot of the film, which is a cheap scare and pretty much sums up every problem I have with the movie itself.

I have been waiting for Natalie Dormer to lead her own film for awhile now. But unfortunately, THE FOREST isn't that star vehicle I had hoped it would be. Regardless of the quality of the film, Dormer was still able to show off her range and provide a bit more depth to the character than was probably on the page. I'm glad the film never devolved into a PARENT TRAP/IT TAKES TWO situation, but getting a better sense for the character of Jess would have been another interesting plot point. Luckily, Dormer's star continues to rise and this will be a little blip on her IMDB page.
THE EXTRAS
Audio Commentary: Fans of the movie will enjoy this extra. Director Jason Zada speaks about how he filmed the movie, including what it was like shooting on-location in Serbia and Japan.

Exploring THE FOREST: A quick, 8 minute "making of" featurette that shows interviews of the cast and crew, as well as some behind the scenes footage.

Galleries: There are some interesting images here set to creepy music from the movie... more so than I usually see on Blu-ray releases. There are promo images, behind the scenes images, makeup tests, and storyboards.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
THE FOREST isn't worth your time or money. However, if you're a fan of Natalie Dormer (like I am) this film does give her a chance to show her talent and have a ton of screen time. Just make sure you go for the rental instead of the purchase. And don't worry, day or night I don't think you will have any trouble falling asleep after this one.
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