The Forest (2016) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Forest (2016) Review

Horrorific content by adrian on May 21st, 2020 | Movie Review | Cursed, Haunted, Supernatural, Back from the Dead, Wilderness, Urban Legend

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It's about a woman who travels to Japan to save her twin sister from offing herself in the legendary suicide forest.

The Forest was directed by Jason Zada and stars Natalie Dormer (from Patient Zero), Eoin Macken (from I Am Fear and The Hole In The Ground) and Yûho Yamashita (from Ever After).

Everyone comes here looking for a way out

So there's this vast super dense forest in Japan called the Aokigahara, at the base of Mount Fuji. Some call it Sea of Trees, most call it the Suicide Forest. Since forever it's been a popular place for people to go to commit suicide, so much so that the Japanese believe it's actively haunted by "yurei", ghosts of the dead. Up until the nineteenth century people would actually leave their sick and elderly in the forest to die, they call it "ubasute". Crazy that it has a name. And since the 70's there's been annual body searches where police and volunteers comb the place to clear it of corpses. And if that weren't dark enough, the forest also sits upon ancient lava rock which supposedly mutes sound travel and makes magnetic compasses go haywire.

Talk about a perfect setting for a horror movie.

And as you'd expect, The Forest was not the first movie about this forest. There's also Forest of Death, Forest of the Living Dead, Grave Halloween and Forest of the Damned. Actually, never mind, that last one isn't about ghosts as much as it is about naked bisexual female monsters.

This movie is a January release PG-13 horror. PG-13's are fine, January horror movies are not. January is known in the film industry as Dump Month, which pretty much says it all. Other January movies include The Grudge remake, Underwater and Mama. None of which were stellar contributions to the genre. I don't think The Forest was as bad as these examples, but it does hide in the same shadows.

This movie starts off quick, in that it rushes through the exposition to get into the forest as fast as possible. Basically, a woman named Sarah gets word that her sister wandered into the suicide forest and hops on the first flight to Tokyo to save her. And the first guy she meets happens to know everything about everything and agrees to take her into the forest to help with her rescue mission.

The Forest's angle is that the yurei ghosts aren't just ghosts who wander around freaking out hikers, but rather they try to lure in the living and drive them to suicide by preying on their deepest sadness and fears. Kinda messed up when you think about it. They go into the forest to kill themselves for whatever reason and then in the afterlife try to trick other non-suicidal people into doing the same, just because? Problem is, Sarah is sad because her twin sister wandered into the suicide forest. So nobody wants her going in after her sister because they know the ghosts will sniff her out (shocker, they do).

This of course sets the perfect stage for a mind bendy movie, where you never really know what's real and what's not. I mean, it's kind of a basic movie so you DO for sure know what's real and what's not, but still. That plus the setting gives you the whole 'getting lost in the woods' thing. It's what this movie rests on. And oh man, does Sarah get lost in the woods, like immediately. She's warned to not believe anything weird she sees, first thing she does is believe what she sees and goes screaming and running into the woods.

And the rest of the movie is pretty much her screaming and running around the woods.

Worth Watching?

I actually thought The Forest was fun to watch. It's not a great horror movie and there's nothing scary about it other than a hundred jump scares, but it does have its moments. The tourist gift shop that doubles as a morgue comes to mind.

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