“The Forest” (2016) – Lost Among the Familiar Trees

The Forest is the first mainstream horror release of 2016 in the US. That’s probably the most significant title it can claim, as otherwise The Forest is an unremarkable effort on every front. The central conflict focuses around Natalie Dormer’s Sarah flying to Japan to find her twin sister Jess, who was in Japan for school. As she exposits, she has a natural connection with her twin, sensing that she’s in some kind of danger after hearing of her disappearance. That dangerous sixth sense sends Sarah to search for Jess through the infamous Aokigahara Forest a.k.a. The Suicide Forest, a real life woodland location where various Japanese citizens take their lives.

Naturally, there’s a lot of potential in a film about such a culturally significant location. Yet, the titular forest could have just been any other dense forest locale, as the scares here feel rather unconnected to any real mythology beyond the basic concept and a typical Japanese school girl ghost that pops up on occasion. They’re all mostly generic and seemingly disassociated jump scares, the only real narrative connection being toward a backstory component for Sarah & Jess that never truly gives us a connection to these two as sisters. It’s also a shame that The Forest gives a fine talent like Natalie Dormer nothing to do with either of her two roles, since Jess is essentially a plot device and Sarah is a forgettably bland white girl cliche with vaguely xenophobic attitudes and a charmless smirk. She’s also paired with Taylor Kinney as a block of wood that seems to be a partner of varying motives, but only ends up serving as a relatively rather flimsy excuse for false tension one could see the outcome of a mile away. The few scares that manage to work are based in rather primal fears, particularly one involving maggots. Otherwise, this is a complete dull thud of a horror film.

Date Seen: 1/11/16

Rating 1.5 out of 5 Broken Tree Limbs

the-forest-poster

Gramercy Pictures

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