The Forest Review

After thinking about my movie watching habits, I decided to start seeing more films of questionable quality. Lately most of the films I’ve watched have been superb. There’s nothing wrong with only seeing high-quality movies, but I tend not to have anything interesting to say about them. Seeing bad movies should give me more interesting and vicious things to say on this blog.

First on my list of supposedly bad movies is The Forest. It follows Sarah, played by Natalie Dormer, as she tracks down her twin sister Jess, also played by Dormer, who supposedly committed suicide in the Aokigahara forest. Along the way, Sarah teams up with the handsome and charming Aidan who accompanies her to write a news story.

Early on it becomes clear that the movie is confused, and not in a good way. Sarah tells Aidan the story of how her parents were killed by a drunk driver, but the images on screen do not support this narrative. On screen, it appears that Sarah and Jess’s father kills his wife and commits suicide, creating a strange inconsistency.

Also, it would help a lot if Sarah were a somewhat interesting or complex character. Her basic “need to find my sister” motivations become tiresome quickly. The flatness of Dormer’s character is the true downfall of this movie. All she needs is one or two well-timed lines to make her character more three-dimensional. Instead we are expected to trudge along with Sarah’s annoyingly singular goal. She feels like a robot programmed to do one thing and no one wants to watch a movie about that.

The movie relies pretty heavily on jump scares. I would like to think that I am desensitized to such frights, but in truth, I do not watch enough horror. At least two times, I felt my chest tingle when the music volume increased and something scary yet odd happened on screen. Jump scares are effective but they feel cheap. They have the effect of pissing me off because they don’t feel earned.

So this movie has some things going for it. Dormer is nice to look at, it takes place in Japan and some parts are effectively chillling, such as the images of bodies hanging from nooses in the forest. It’s obvious that the movie had some material removed. Certain lines suggest a more complete story, but perhaps it would have been a bore. The film barely reaches and hour and a half and I was glad when it ended. If I had paid to see The Forest, I would have felt ripped off. So the movie exists in the category of “meh”.  It’s not awful but its definitely not good by any means. Unless you are a devoted Horror enthusiast, avoid this movie and see one of the many excellent films currently in theaters.

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