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The Forest (2015)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Jason Zada

Starring:
Natalie Dormer/Sara/Jess
Taylor Kinney/Aiden
Eoin Macken/Rob
Yûho Yamashita/Sakura
4 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Sara's twin sister Jess (both played by Natalie Dormer) dissapears in Japan's "suicide forest".Sara goes to find her and... shit goes wrong.
THE LOWDOWN

When I first heard of THE FOREST I got really excited about it. I loved the initial premise (A horror film set in Japan's real life suicide forest, how can you go wrong?) and the lovely/talented Natalie Dormer is the tits. An ideal leading dame! But my stoke-ness got considerably castrated when I found out that the film was getting an early January release aka during “dumping month”. That’s not to say that ALL horror movies that have come out in January sucked the meat pipe, there’s always exceptions (I’m too lazy to find one, knock yourself out) alas THE FOREST wasn’t one of them. As the end credits rolled I was shaking my head like an epileptic on coke; yet another typical overcooked dump month horror release. For shame.

Movies like THE FOREST frustrate me because there was something solid there and for some f*cking reason somebody ruined it in the name of whatever the hell made sense to he/she/them/it. As-is, the flick was a shell of what it could’ve and should've been. It sported a stand out lead actress in Natalie Dormer, who carried the film on her slim shoulders admirably specially taking into account the shoddy/half cocked way the narrative dealt with her roles' characterizations. The visual style was often mucho moody (ominous camera work and oppressive angles) while the forest location itself was ideal when it came to bringing on the creepy. I was personally fascinated with the real life history behind the real life place (named Aokigahara in case you give a shit). I may look it up once I’m done writing this crap to see what is fact and what was fiction in terms of the deets the flick brought up. Finally, the movie got me with some of its cheap boo scares and it pimped its fair share of scary set pieces too. Some were familiar (lots of J Horror influences in this one), while others were more unique.

Bummer that all that quality was wasted on a product that was obviously left in the editing room oven for way two long. I mean how else can you explain the “lets put our cards on the table in the swiftest way possible as to not bore our ADD target audience” set-up they rushed our way? Talk about how to NOT get a mature audience involved in a character and her plight off the bat. WOW. How do you expect me to give a shit about anything with that kind of half assed base for your story? Come on! Use your head! The same went for the “Aiden” (ideally tackled by Taylor Kinney, dude owned it, I'll give him that) subplot which wound up being everywhere yet nowhere. Without going into SPOILER territory, the story wrote checks it couldn’t cash, meaning, it played a game that it failed MISERABLY at. I know the difference between “aloof” for the sakes of artistry and aloof due to an incompetence at storytelling and this one was the latter. By the time the contrived ending popped up and the tacky last frames stank up the joint, I wanted out of that f*cking theatre ASAP to go do something worthwhile with my time, like wipe my ass with my VISA bills.

On the whole THE FOREST wound up being a let down. A could've been solid film that obviously got compromised somewhere along the lines. Skip it on the big screen, see it on DVD/VOD if you have to or don’t see it at all. You’re not missing anything. 

GORE
We get some cuts, light blood and a stabbing. Not much jelly on this toast.
T & A
NATHING
BOTTOM LINE
What would happen if somebody took a finished horror film, shaved off the set up and the meat of the story and basically just left the scary moments in there? Something like THE FOREST would be the result. What was there showed promise; solid leading lady, potent atmosphere and some skillful scares. It’s what wasn’t there that killed my sit down i.e. a story that went beyond an initial premise and a competent way to tell it. THE FOREST came off like a film they f*cked so much in the cutting room, that by the time they were done with it, it couldn’t walk straight.
BULL'S EYE
This is Jason Zada's directorial debut. He wrote The Houses October Built (2014).

You can't shoot in the Aokighara forest hence they shot the film in a forest in Serbia.
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5:47PM on 01/09/2016
Sounds like if you have to see one film set in that location watch Versus that film kicks ass.
Sounds like if you have to see one film set in that location watch Versus that film kicks ass.
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