The Forest could have one of the best backstories to any horror film, using the Aokigahara as the main setting.
Known to the Japanese as the ‘Suicide Forest’ it certainly does provide a lot of history and it is well worth doing your research on the place before watching the film and it could make it scarier, as there are a lot of stories to be told. With Natalie Dormer as the lead, with the Game of Thrones behind her, it had a lot of potential but does the film actually use all this history and genuine scares to its advantage or not?
Unfortunately The Forest mostly squanders its promise and degrades the Aokigahara into a hot spot for cheap jump scares and does not take advantage of the creepy and somewhat dangerous location. To defend the film there aren’t too many jump scares but the biggest problem the film has is instead of building on the characters development it tries and fails to make the actual forest a character. So it seems like the first 45 minutes that don’t even take place in the forest are pretty pointless and after it taking so long to get going, it just made you ask whether you are even enjoying the film.
There is a glimmer of an interesting movie that occasionally shines through and it just about creates an atmosphere, which is a travesty as the setting should have done that itself if it was set up properly. The performance from Natalie Dormer does deserve a little bit of praise as she was committed and put her all into it which might not have been the case seen as though it is just a horror film brought out early in the year.
Another disappointing aspect of the film is that they did initially set up the characters of Jess and Sara quite well but again the most intriguing character Jess is undeveloped in terms of her motivations and intentions. However, this is also where the film does well as it makes you question something and without spoiling it, director Jason Zada is intelligent enough to focus mostly on the mental aspects of the film.
The set up doesn’t really go anywhere as the conclusion doesn’t answer any questions and it makes you think that the set-up is for nothing more than just jump scares, which brings us to the final scene which is now an overused moment that far too many horror films are using these days.
You can tell there were many writers involved in this and it really hurts the film as it seems like there were a lot of good ideas that couldn’t get developed properly. Depressingly you are emotionally uninvolved as you don’t feel despair for the lost souls that are in the forest so they missed out on something much better.
Also a final note is that Nike got some pretty decent advertisement as there are many shots of the characters trainers.
4 out of 10.