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Review: The Forest

The Forest
01.08.2016
4 10
 

PLOT: A young American (Natalie Dormer) travels to the infamous Aokigahara Forest in Japan to find her missing twin sister.

REVIEW: THE FOREST is a pretty prototypical example of what passes for mainstream studio horror these days. With a decent hook, a low budget, some recognizable actors and a PG-13 rating, THE FOREST is little more than genre filler meant to quickly cash-in and cash-out of cinemas and certainly, it’ll turn a decent profit. Yet, there’s a total artlessness to it that’s a real shame as the location used here is so intriguing it could have been turned into something truly frightening rather than a disposal horror thriller for easily frightened teens.

The Aokigahara Forest in Japan, at the case of Mount Fuji is indeed a real place. Called the “suicide forest” it’s infamously known as a place Japanese people wander in to in order to commit suicide. In fact, it’s also the basis for Gus Van Sant’s higher-brow SEA OF TREES, a Matthew McConaughey/ Ken Watanabe vehicle that crashed and burned with critics following its Cannes 2015 debut, but is likely a far better examination of the subject than this.

Here, the Aokigahara Forest is reimagined as an evil place where spirits wander about trying to claim victims from the lost souls who wander in. Again, this isn’t a bad premise at all, but the people behind THE FOREST seem to have no interest in making a truly disturbing piece of genre entertainment, with them instead riffing on Japanese horror in a way that feels like a throwback to the brief time where movies like THE GRUDGE and THE RING were all the rage.

As such, there are tons of shots of creepy Japanese school girls, a ridiculous amount of jump scares (the cheapest way to frighten an audience in the books) and ghosts that look recycled from other, better movies. At least the movie does have a capable actress in the lead. Games of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer is quite striking and has true presence – it’s just too bad she’s not able to do much here other than act scared and/or concerned for her missing twin. She fares worse as the stereo-typically troubled twin – who – naturally—has black hair as opposed to the capable twin’s blonde locks.

TV heartthrob Taylor Kinney also has to contend with a really poorly conceived character, with him initially passed-off as a journalist following our heroine for a story, with him inevitably turning into a red herring for no good reason (there’s also a very random, unconvincing resolution for the character). As it’s essentially the two of them on-screen for most of the running time, these two-dimensional leads make it hard to invest in the story at all, with only the solid location photography by lenser Mattias Troelstrup standing out in any way.

While THE FOREST is no worse than your average studio horror film; it’s still quite sluggishly paced and too unimaginative to recommend as anything more than a slightly passable time waster on a streaming service. With so many good films from the end of the year still left in theaters, you could and should do a lot better than THE FOREST this weekend.

Source: JoBlo.com

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