The Forest Blu-ray Review
At the base of Mt. Fuji sits a forest called Aokigahara. It has been nicknamed Suicide Forest because of the large quantity of people that go there to kill themselves.
One night, Sara Price (Natalie Dormer, who plays Margaery Tyrell on HBO’s GAME OF THRONES) gets a phone call informing her that her sister’s employer has filed a missing persons report. Authorities tell her that Jess (also Dormer) was last seen around Aokigahara. And so Sara hops on the first flight out of Honolulu and heads for Japan so she can solve the mystery.
It’s there that she meets a reporter named Aiden (Taylor Kinney, NBC’s CHICAGO FIRE), who has a few demons of his own. After coming across evidence that Jess would have indeed visited Suicide Forest, Sara and Aiden decide to have an overnight stay. Despite warnings from locals to not deviate from the path, well, you know…Enter the ghosts, spirits and apparitions.
THE FOREST has a supremely disturbing location at the forefront—Aokigahara sees hundreds of suicides and/or attempts every year; there are even hunts held every year to locate the missing or dead. This is an unsettling yet fascinating setting for a story. But the screenwriters (Ben Ketai, Sarah Cornwell and Nick Antosca) do far too little with it. They complete the task of introducing the forest and outlining its prominence, but that’s the easy part. What is more difficult is making a horror movie based around Aokigahara and its hauntings while still remaining sensitive and respectful to the victims. This is a complete failure on the part of the filmmakers.
As expected (perhaps even just from the poster), THE FOREST attempts to offer its biggest thrills through images that suddenly flash on the screen and score cues that suddenly shriek from the speakers. This just isn’t enough and only serves to show just how lazy the movie is.
THE FOREST marks the feature debut of Jason Zada, whose name you may not recognize but whose work you have likely been forced to see by an officemate: Zada had a large role in creating Elf Yourself, the website that allows you to upload a picture onto an elf’s body and watch it dance around for as long as your day allows—it’s about as good for a laugh as THE FOREST is for a scare.
This is a poorly written movie that, when it’s not jumping at the viewer for frights, is reminding them that they aren’t smart enough to remember the basic premise. Consider this on-the-nose exchange: “I thought you might have met my sister, Jess. She came here and disappeared.” “Do you know about the forest?”
Despite all of the potential in the source and the promising casting of Dormer, THE FOREST accomplishes very little. It just doesn’t want to take the time to care about the characters, the inspirations or giving the audience an enjoyable time at the movies. You’re better off staring at the Elf Yourself website in the middle of April.
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. The transfer is strong overall and boasts deep black levels.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. Dialogue is clear while the score cues work as intended.
Feature commentary with director Jason Zada: Zada offers a decent and informative track that fans of THE FOREST will enjoy.
Exploring THE FOREST (8:05): This featurette looks at the inspirations, story, locations, cast and more.