Doubleback Review: The Forest
While I am a major film enthusiast, I don't get to see everything in a timely manner. I have created this doubling back columns, to catch the films I missed in theaters in the comfort of my home.
I like Natalie Dormer a lot on "Game of Thrones," that was really the only motivation I had to see this movie. I always like a good horror film and I liked Natalie Dormer on "Game of Thrones." Sometimes, something little is all it takes to get yourself ready for a movie. In "The Forest," Dormer plays both Sara and Jess, two twins were witnessed a horrible tragedy when they were very little. Jess grew up and lives in Japan, while Sara stayed in the United States. While they are not close in terms of miles, like most movie twins, they can feel when the other one is in peril. One day, it is believed that Jess has committed suicide. She journeyed to the Aokigahara forest, a suicide hotspot in Japan. Sara travels to Japan in order to discover what happened to her sister.
The Aokigahara presents the perfect backdrop for any type of horror film. Its definitely eerie that people go to a specific place in order to take their own lives. There are all sorts of stories that could be told in this setting, and I am sad to report "The Forest" scrapes from the bottom of the barrel to find the most predictable, most boring, most unimaginative fare possible. "The Forest" is all over the place in terms of logic and sense. It becomes clear early in the movie that the forest forces the people in it to hallucinate. When Sara gets to the forest, she definitely begins to hallucinate. Its heavily implied that she sees things that represent something in her life or something she is thinking about. She never once discusses the significance of creepy old women or scarecrow people at any point in the movie. But when she enters the forest, there is a creepy old woman and some scarecrow people watching her. What do these haunts mean? Its never figured out, I guess the filmmakers wanted to recycle some tropes to see if they could get some scares.
I will say that Dormer does some convincing work as both Sara and Jess. The twins are two totally different personalities, and Dormer handles both of their material well. I just cringe that she has to say standard horror movie dialogue. She can't make any of it land, and it never once feels natural. Taylor Kinney plays Aiden, a reporter who meets Sara in Japan and plans to help her find her sister. He's that one other character where we can't guess if he's good or bad, then find out he was good after all. Kinney is fine, he's just not given much of a character to play.
What surprised me was that despite the short run-time and the ludicrous nature of the scares, there were actually a few good jump scenes. When it comes to horror movies, there are specific types of the genre I like. I usually can't stand jump scares, and I particularly hate movies that use them as a crutch. "The Forest" is a movie that relies heavily on jump scares. There is even one that opens the movie that is only in it for laughs afterwards. I rolled my eyes, but as the film continued, there were some that got me good. Its really hard in this day and age to get a jump scare right, so I will give credit there. I just wish in the terms of the movie that those scares were earned.
"The Forest" may have had good performances and some good scares going for it, but I am sure it will be a horror movie that becomes forgotten as the year continues. I think the movie is a missed opportunity more than anything, just because I think this could have been something very difficult to sit through, but "The Forest" plays every aspect so save that it feels rather disappointing.
FINAL GRADE: D+