I have waited a long time to watch The Forest because of all of the negative reviews I had been hearing/reading about it. I try not to let other people’s opinions affect mine, so I had to let the criticism die down a bit before I could really give this one a fair shot. Unfortunately, after finally viewing it, I agree with a lot of the low scores the film has received since its release. I thought there was a lot going for it, but the film didn’t have the effect on me that I was hoping for.
Sara (Natalie Dormer, The Hunger Games franchise) travels to the infamous Aokigahara forest of Japan to find her twin sister, Jess, whom she has a strong feeling is still alive, after have been missing for over 48 hours. Once there, Sara begins to mentally unravel as she falls victim to the power of the forest.
The Forest marks the full-length feature debut of director Jason Zada. With that said, I’d like to commend Zada for taking on a project that contains a certain level of originality and for trying to give fans a glimpse into the supernatural culture of Japan. I just wish I actually liked the film a lot more than I actually do. Along with his a team of writers, Zada set out to make classic horror tale of the supernatural and while it did contain a few frightening spirits here and there, there just wasn’t enough here to keep me interested. The yurei, or ‘angry ghosts,’ and other types of spirits seen throughout the film seemed too randomly placed and didn’t really do much in the way of story progression. The Forest also managed to wedge itself into the same space as the awful Nightmare on Elm Street remake, as it was somewhat hard to figure out if some things that we, the audience, were seeing were part of Sara’s hallucinations or if they were actually happening. This happened way too frequently throughout the film’s 93 minutes, still leaving me wondering about a few things after the credits have rolled.
It isn’t all bad with this modern-day ghost story, however. I think the effects team did a wonderful job creating everything practically and with traditional make-up, and the set producers did remarkably with the film’s various settings (ice caves, country cabin, etc.). In addition to the film looking great, the acting was very well executed, as well. Natalie Dormer as both Sara and Jess did a great job as the film’s main focus and Taylor Kinney aka Lady Gaga’s fiance (“Chicago Fire,” Zero Dark Thirty) was a perfect selection for the role of Aiden.
I respect The Forest and its creators for trying to do something new and exciting while still remaining true to the lore and tradition of Japan and the supernatural sub-genre in general, but it just seemed to fall a bit flat without truly delivering a good cohesive story/horror film. If you’ve seen it, please comment below and let me know your thoughts on the matter!
You can purchase a copy of the film on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, available now.
I give The Forest 2 mystical twin connections out of 5.