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The Forest Review

"The Forest is a long confusing journey to an even more confusing conclusion"

January is considered the dumping ground for bad movies. Audiences are smaller than the rest of the year, so no tent pole movies are released. These non-tent pole movies are usually bad horror movies.  Some past examples include 2014’s Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and 2015’s The Woman in Black 2. Needless to say, my expectations were low walking into The Forest. And in doing so, the fact that it was terrible did not come as much as a surprise.

The Forest stars Natalie Dormer as Sarah, a woman desperately looking for her missing twin sister, Jess, who recently moved across the world to Japan. Jess is lost in Japan’s Aokigahara forest, famously known as the forest where the troubled go to commit suicide.

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Sarah visits a few places that Jess frequents in Japan to inquire more about her whereabouts. When Sarah tells people about Jess’s being lost into the forest, they all sternly warn her not to go. Sarah later visits a bar and is hit on by a travel writer (Taylor Kinney) , who just happens to be making a trip to the forest tomorrow complete with a tour guide. After searching all day to no avail, Sarah decides to wait behind for her sister when night falls, despite repeated warnings from the tour guide that staying alone in a haunted forest overnight is a really bad idea. Needless to say, Sarah ignores him and stays.

The Forest has some good scary imagery, but there’s not enough of it. It takes about an hour and a half for the film to build up, but throughout this time there are several jump scares. The jump scares are especially awkward here because they do not contribute to the plot in any way, resulting in any tension that the movie built being ruined. There is some character development with Jess and Sarah, provided in flashbacks, but the twins’ backstory still did not provide a plausible reason for the ending. It is never really explained why Jess went to the forest in the first place.

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The biggest flaw with The Forest is that it is simply not scary. Natalie Dormer’s performance is serviceable, but most of the time she simply looks more annoyed than scared. In her defense, she is not given much to work with and her ordeals are more confusing than frightening. Taylor Kinney’s character is underdeveloped, underutilized, and useless. There were so many things that his character could have been used for, and the movie did not use any of them.

The second biggest flaw with The Forest, is that it does not make any sense! It seems as if the writer’s had a great idea to write a script about someone being lost in Japan’s suicide forest, and wrote a bunch of filler because they could not come up with enough clever ideas. Sarah goes through all of these obstacles that keep her from finding her sister, but they come across more comedic than intriguing.

The Forest is a really good idea that could have been taken in a lot of different directions, it is unfortunate that the filmmakers decided to use this one.

Rating
4.8
Pros
  • A serviceable performance from Natalie Dormer
Cons
  • Weird cinematography
  • Too many jump scares
  • Confusing ending
  • Not scary

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